Boston: Lilly & Wait, 1830. 12mo. [iv], iv, 424 pp. First American edition. With map frontispiece (incorrectly placed facing chapter 1) and 46 text illustrations. An extra image has been tipped onto the verso of the title page (probably by a previous owner as opposed to the printer). Half calf and marbled boards with gilt title on the spine, boards slightly scuffed and edges a bit worn; some browning due to quality of paper and light scattered foxing. Item #14932
First American edition of this popular account of native New Zealanders and their interactions with Western society. Culled mainly from the written narratives of explorers like Cook and Rutherford, the author seeks to edify readers about the early history of New Zealand and its culture while also capitalizing on sensational topics such as cannibalism and tattooing. Firmly planted in the rhetoric of civilized (i.e. European) versus uncivilized, for modern readers this work is as much about European perceptions of “savage” cultures as it is about the native people and traditions it purports to describe. The book was particularly popular in America, as many readers identified with the “wildness” of the New Zealand territory, disdaining what they felt was an “over-cultured” society in Europe.
Craik (1798-1866) was a Scottish writer who wrote primarily for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. He was a professor of English literature and history at Belfast.