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The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific


Publisher:Princeton Univ Pr



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About the book:

According to many standard histories of the Pacific, when Captain James Cook landed on the island of Hawaii on January 17, 1779, he was received by the natives as an avatar of the god Lono and feted accordingly. In The Apotheosis of Captain Cook Sri Lankan scholar Gananath Obeyesekere questions this "fact" of history, arguing that it was the Europeans, and not the natives, who found a need to establish their colonization of new worlds on the notion of deities come home. Cook himself, Obeyesekere adds sympathetically, was a man caught between social classes, treated as an equal by Polynesian kings but shunned by members of the English nobility because of his lower-class background; he was a good man, but a god only in the imaginations of his compatriots. Obeyesekere devotes much of The Apotheosis of Captain Cook to arguing spiritedly with anthropologist Marshall Sahlins over matters of Hawaiian history.

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