Saturday, April 24, 2010

Faery Lands of the South Seas by Nordhoff and Hall

Faery Lands of the South Seas by James Norman Hall and Charles Bernard Nordoff. 1921

After I read Lure of Tahiti, I realized that Nordoff and Hall were a big deal in the world of South Pacific literature. I picked up Faery Lands for $15, 1st edition, no dust jacket at a local bookstore. Being cheap, $15 is about as much as I will spend but I liked the cover and wanted to read something by the fellows.

This is the first book they wrote together and in a future post I will review their Bounty trilogy, which is really what they are known for.

It starts with the authors in Paris at the end of World War I, dreaming of going to the south pacific. Somehow they made this happen because the book skips right into them about to make landfall on the island of Tahiti. At that point the authors went their separate ways but had made plans to rendezvous at a distant date.

One thing that is totally charming about this book are the illustrations throughout it. The one called Landfall precedes
different sections of the book.

Also included in the book are about 29 sketches in the book that really give you that island feel.

I am also a sucker for when you get a little illustration at the beginning of each chapter.

Content wise, some of the stories were really great and some kind of a snooze. The stories that Hall wrote I liked a little better. This book is great example of classic south pacific stories, though. If you want to read it immediately (and see more of the illustrations, but not the sketches) you can read it on Google Books. Or perhaps you would like to listen to it, well you can do that here.

If you want to learn more about James Norman Hall, click on the official site about him. One day I will make it to Tahiti for visit his museum.

And lastly, do you have a spare $17,500.00? If so then you can buy the whole collection of their books here. If anyone wants to buy it for me, I will write you a very nice thank you note!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lure of Tahiti by A. Grove Day

The Lure of Tahiti : An Armchair Companion Edited by A. Grove Day 1986

I found this at the used book store down the street (marked down 3 times to $4!). This was one of my earlier finds for my South Pacific Literature collection and would prove to yield much bounty.

This book introduced me to the world of Mutual Publishing based in Honolulu which is still in business and very active. It is nice to see when you are on vacation in Hawaii you can pick up some of their titles at the local store or gift shops. It is an inexpensive way to introduce people to Hawaiian/Polynesian culture, since most of their book are paperback.

The Lure of Tahiti is broken into 4 sections: The Sojourners, The Travelers, The Missionaries and The Explorers. Each section has a story by a different author. It includes some heavy hitters of Tahitian fiction like James Norman Hall and W. Somerset Maugham. But also has some historical accounts by William Blight and Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

My favorite thing about these compilation books by Mutual, is that before each new story they give you a little background on each author. The other good thing about comps, if you aren't into the story you can skip to the next one.

Overall, it is a good collection and a great introduction (list price $5.95 from Mutual, still in print) if you want to get a taste of some classic Tahitian focused stories.