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Three Men Of The Beagle par Richard Lee…

Three Men Of The Beagle (édition 1991)

par Richard Lee Marks (Auteur)

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Titre:Three Men Of The Beagle
Auteurs:Richard Lee Marks (Auteur)
Info:Knopf (1991), Edition: 1st, 256 pages
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Three Men Of The Beagle par Richard Lee Marks


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This book is a disappointment. It should be wonderful, taking the story of Jemmy Button past where any other source I've read has taken it...the author looks at what happens to the Fuegian after Fitzroy has returned to England and all but forgotten him. It is a fascinating tale of missionaries who wish to find him and coopt him to their purpose of Christianizing the natives. Too bad the author is such a sloppy writer. Strange sentence syntax and poor punctuation lead to some unintentional howlers, such as "his youngest daughter named Laura". Long parenthetical comments run on sometimes for an entire page, and should have been part of the text, not in parentheses. Parentheses that are opened without being closed; parentheses that are closed without being opened. Poor writing coupled with poor editing leads to some painful reading. Still, the story is interesting, and it is an interesting new twist on the tale of the Beagle, except...when one ponders what the author left out in the part that is well known, one wonders what he left out in the part that is less well known. And the omissions are telling. To read this account, one would think that Captain Fitzroy truly believed the natives to be his equal, and could be forgiving for assuming he was an ardent abolitionist, rather than the full throated proponent of slavery who once had Darwin worried he would be left behind in South America because he disagreed with Fitzroy on that issue. Some key details that were omitted or just plain wrong about Darwin, as well. So how can we trust the narrative about Jemmy Button in those years after the Beagle returned to England? Especially since the author manages to give us a rundown of what Jemmy was thinking in the final years before his death, a period in which he was not seen by any English man, and nothing was written or passed down about the inner workings of Jemmy's mind. Speculation is one thing; speculation presented as fact is...well, wrong in a book of this sort. Save that for historical fiction. Some pluses: the author does not attempt to romanticize the lives of the natives, nor paint a noble savage picture. He does not attempt to paint the English as either evil or as completely noble. His characters come across as flawed human beings who make stupid mistakes and who sometimes rush in where angels fear to tread. He is perhaps too kind to the religious impulse for my tastes, and seems ready to promote the idea that religion is essential for a good society, but his missionaries come across as one-dimensional zealots, which makes that hard to swallow. In the end, worth reading, but will never make a list of my favorites. It did make me interested in the search for Jemmy Button and the changes that occurred both in the missionary community and the Fuegian communities. Perhaps the next source I find will be a better writer. ( )
  Devil_llama | Sep 4, 2019 |
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