Aphrodite's Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti

Overview

Aphrodite's Island is a bold new account of the European discovery of Tahiti, the Pacific island of mythic status that has figured so powerfully in European imaginings about sexuality, the exotic, and the nobility or bestiality of “savages.”
In this groundbreaking book, Anne Salmond takes readers to the center of the shared history to furnish rich insights into Tahitian perceptions of the visitors while illuminating the full extent of European fascination with Tahiti. As she ...

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Overview

Aphrodite's Island is a bold new account of the European discovery of Tahiti, the Pacific island of mythic status that has figured so powerfully in European imaginings about sexuality, the exotic, and the nobility or bestiality of “savages.”
In this groundbreaking book, Anne Salmond takes readers to the center of the shared history to furnish rich insights into Tahitian perceptions of the visitors while illuminating the full extent of European fascination with Tahiti. As she discerns the impact and meaning of the European effect on the islands, she demonstrates how, during the early contact period, the mythologies of Europe and Tahiti intersected and became entwined. Drawing on Tahitian oral histories, European manuscripts and artworks, collections of Tahitian artifacts, and illustrated with contemporary sketches, paintings, and engravings from the voyages, Aphrodite's Island provides a vivid account of the Europeans' Tahitian adventures. At the same time, the book's compelling insights into Tahitian life significantly change the way we view the history of this small island during a period when it became a crossroads for Europe.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreword
“A gripping multidisciplinary history . . . Salmond has mined an immense archive to create a brilliant picture of Tahiti, and also the Europe it fascinated.”
Times Higher Education - Katrina Schlunke
“There is awe to be had in reading this blockbuster of a book. Salmond offers us the satisfying, readerly pleasure of realising a particular place and time.”
Scotsman
“An absorbing history of the European engagement with Tahiti.”
Journal Of World History - Harry Liebersohn
“Scholars from many fields . . . and general readers may turn to this book as a freshly conceived, attractively written example of world history.”
Times Literary Supplement (TLS) - Glyn Williams
“The story is one that has been told many times, but Salmond’s book offers new insights.”
Magill's Literary Annual / Salem Press - Grove Koger
“A refreshingly even-handed analysis of late-eighteenth century affairs on Tahiti.”
Cook’s Log
“Readers are in debt to Anne Salmond for adding a substantial and well-researched cross-cultural work to understanding of a decade in which Europeans, Captain Cook among them, discovered Otahite, Aphrodite's Island.“
Library Journal
Mention of Tahiti still conjures up images of a South Pacific paradise, just as it did for 18th-century European sailors on their voyages of exploration. The reality has always been more complex. Salmond (Maori studies & anthropology, Univ. of Auckland, New Zealand) provides a superbly detailed account of life and culture in 1760s and 1770s Tahiti when the first European explorers arrived in the Society Islands. Seamlessly interweaving information gleaned from English, French, and Spanish written sources that derived from Tahitian oral tradition, she creates an insightful portrait of the complex relationships and webs of misunderstanding that developed between the Tahitians and the explorers. The narrative smoothly explores the intricacies of 18th-century Tahitian political power struggles and the impact that the arrival of European seamen, with their own priorities, ideas, and misconceptions, had on local life. VERDICT Salmond effectively merges historical and anthropological research to create a spellbinding, richly descriptive, and deeply thought-provoking account of late 18th-century Tahitian life and cultural conflict. Thoroughly documented yet highly readable, it will appeal widely to both lay readers and scholars. Highly recommended.—Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH
Cook's Log
“Readers are in debt to Anne Salmond for adding a substantial and well-researched cross-cultural work to understanding of a decade in which Europeans, Captain Cook among them, discovered Otahite, Aphrodite's Island.“
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520271326
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 522,191
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Salmond is Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Among her books are Two Worlds: First Meetings between Maori and Europeans 1642-1772 and The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements

Introduction Aphrodite's Island

Chapter 1 Thunder in ‘Opoa
Chapter 2 The Glorious Children of Tetumu
Chapter 3 Purea, ‘Queen’ of Tahiti
Chapter 4 Happy Island of Cythera
Chapter 5 Ahutoru at the Opéra
Chapter 6 A Polynesian Venus
Chapter 7 Captain Cook in Arcadia
Chapter 8 The Transit of Venus
Chapter 9 Circling the Land
Chapter 10 Tupaia’s Ship
Chapter 11 The Viceroy of Peru
Chapter 12 Tute ’s Return
Chapter 13 Hitihiti’s Odyssey
Chapter 14 The Red Feathers of ’Oro
Chapter 15 Three Tahitians in Lima
Chapter 16 Boenechea’s Burial
Chapter 17 Matimo and the Friars
Chapter 18 Ma’i on Ice Skates
Chapter 19 A Bare-chested Captain
Chapter 20 Tute ’s Portrait
Conclusion The Angel of History
Appendix I The Seasons in Tahiti
Appendix II Islands Named by Island Navigators

Selected Bibliography
Notes

Index

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