Word, the Pen, and the Pistol, The: Literature and Power in Tahiti

SUNY Press
Free sample

The Word, The Pen, and the Pistol explores the relationships between history, power, knowledge, and certain cultural productions such as literature in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Borrowing from the theoretical works of Michel Foucault and Edward Said, the book reveals in the French colonial territory of French Polynesia the complicit relationship between imperialism and colonial texts, between the image of Tahiti as “paradise on earth” and other instruments of management, and between discourses such as the “Noble Savage” and various technologies of discipline and ordering. In particular, the book discusses the role that such men as Buffon, Rousseau, Bouganville, Loti, Gauguin, and Gobineau and institutions such as science, phrenology, scholarship, racism, travel literature, education, and tourism played in creating, supporting, authorizing, disseminating and enforcing certain images of the Polynesian. The book simultaneously details the complex and diverse responses of Maohi people to these romanticized Western discourses and reconstructs the spaces used by them to inscribe their resistance.
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About the author

Robert Nicole is Lecturer in History/Politics at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780791491812
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Australian & Oceanian
Literary Criticism / European / French
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Paul Gauguin fled what he called "filthy Europe" in 1891 to what he hoped would be an unspoiled paradise, Tahiti. He painted 66 magnificent can vases during the first two years he spent there and kept notes from which he later wrote Noa Noa — a journal recording his thoughts and impressions of that time.
Noa Noa — the most widely known of Gauguin's writings — is reproduced here from a rare early edition (1919), in a lucid translation capturing the artist's unpretentious style. Page after page reveals Gauguin's keen observations of Tahiti and its people, and his passionate struggle to achieve the inner harmony he expressed so profoundly on canvas. Gauguin's prose is as seductive as his paintings, filled with descriptions of warm seas, hidden lagoons, lush green forests, and beautiful Maori women.
The journal is captivating reading, offering a compelling autobiographical fragment of the soul of a genius and a rare glimpse of Oceanian culture. The brief periods of happiness Gauguin found among the Tahitians are eloquently expressed in his narrative. We understand the motives that drove him and gain a deeper appreciation of his art.
Today the manuscript provides unparalleled insight into Gauguin's thoughts as he strove to achieve spiritual peace, and into the wellsprings of a singular artistic style which changed the course of modern art. This wonderfully affordable edition — enhanced by 24 of Gauguin's South Seas drawings — makes a unique and passionate testament accessible to all art lovers.
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