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Apotheosis of Captain Cook

Apotheosis of Captain Cook - rev edition

ISBN13: 978-0691057521

Cover of Apotheosis of Captain Cook REV 97 (ISBN 978-0691057521)
ISBN13: 978-0691057521
ISBN10: 0691057524
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: REV 97
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 1997
International: No

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Apotheosis of Captain Cook - REV 97 edition

ISBN13: 978-0691057521

Gananath Obeyesekere

ISBN13: 978-0691057521
ISBN10: 0691057524
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: REV 97
Publisher: Princeton University Press

Published: 1997
International: No
Summary

In January 1778 Captain James Cook "discovered" the Hawaiian islands and was hailed by the native peoples as their returning god Lono. On a return trip, after a futile attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, Cook was killed in what modern anthropologists and historians interpret as a ritual sacrifice of the fertility god. Questioning the circumstances surrounding Cook's so-called divinity - or apotheosis - and his death, Gananath Obeyesekere debunks one of the most enduring myths of imperialism, civilization, and conquest: the notion that the Western civilizer is a god to savages. Through a close reexamination of Cook's grueling final voyage, his increasingly erratic behavior, his strained relations with the Hawaiians, and the violent death he met at their hands, Obeyesekere rewrites an important segment of British and Hawaiian history in a way that challenges Eurocentric views of non-Western cultures. The discrepancies between Cook the legend and the person come alive in a narrative based on shipboard journals and logs kept by the captain and his officers. In these accounts Obeyesekere sees Cook as both the self-conscious civilizer and as the person who, his mission gone awry, becomes a "savage" himself - during the last voyage it was Cook's destructive side that dominated. After examining various versions of the "Cook myth," the author argues that the Hawaiians did not apotheosize the captain but revered him as a chief on par with their own. The blurring of conventional distinctions between history, hagiography, and myth, Obeyesekere maintains, requires us to examine the presuppositions that go into the writing of history and anthropology.

Author Bio

Obeyesekere, Gananath : Princeton University

Gananath Obeyesekere is Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. His many books include The Work of Culture: Symbolic Transformation in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology and, with Richard Gombrich, Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface

Captain Cook and the European Imagination
Myth Models
Improvisation Rationality and Savage Thought
The Third Coming: A Flashback to the South Seas
The Visit to Tahiti and the Destruction of Eimeo
The Discovery of Hawaii
The Thesis of the Apotheosis
Further Objections to the Apotheosis: Maculate Perceptions and Cultural Conceptions
Anthropology and Pseudo-History
Politics and the Apotheosis: A Hawaiian Perspective
The Other Lono: Omiah, the Dalai Lama of the Hawaiians
Cook, Lono, and the Makahiki Festival
The Narrative Resumed: The Last Days
The Death of Cook: British and Hawaiian Versions
Language Games and the European Apotheosis of James Cook
The Humanist Myth in New Zealand History
The Resurrection and Return of James Cook
The Versions of the Apotheosis in the Traditions of Sea Voyagers
Cook, Fornication, and Evil: The Myth of the Missionaries
On Native Histories: Myth, Debate, and Contentious Discourse
Monterey Melons; or, A Native's Reflection on the Topic of Tropical Tropes
Myth Models in Anthropological Narrative
The Mourning and the Aftermath

Appendix I: The Destruction of Hikiau and the Death of William Watman
Appendix II: Kalii and the Divinity of Kings
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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