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Folk-Lore/Volume 31/Review/Man, Past and Present

Man, Past and Present, by A. H. Keane, revised and largely re-written by A. Hingston Quiggin and A. C. Haddon. Cambridge University Press, 1920. Price 36s.

In 1899 Dr. A. H. Keane, a poor scholar, working independently under difficulties of many kinds, published the first edition of Man, Past and Present, which at once assumed the position of one of the most comprehensive and authoritative treatises on Ethnography in the English tongue. Since it was published the mass of materials accumulated by the researches of travellers and trained ethnologists, and interpreted by a band of devoted students of this branch of science, has enormously increased. Besides special work like that of Sir E. Tylor, Sir James Frazer, Dr. E. Sidney Hartland, Professor Elliot Smith, Dr. E. R. Marett, and many others, not to speak of articles in publications like the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, a vast collection of facts lies imbedded in a body of literature, much of which is not accessible to ordinary students. The time has come when these materials need co-ordination and re-arrangement. The present edition is the result of the labours of Mrs. A. H. Quiggin and Professor A. H. Haddon, who may be heartily congratulated on the result of their arduous labours. The book has been revised page by page and almost line by line. Portions now inadequate or obsolete have been replaced by a summary of more recent evidence, exhibited in an attractive style, with full citation of numberless authorities. The book in its new form is well adapted to the needs of the student of Ethnography, and it will long remain an indispensable manual. In less competent hands it might have become a mere cento of scraps and notes, but the fresh learning has been so skilfully worked into the original pages that the book is not only thoroughly scientific but readable. It is only natural that the revision should take special account of those areas in which the progress of research has been most notable, and thus Australia, Melanesia, Central Asia, Africa and the American Indians receive adequate attention.

Opinions will, of course, differ as to the amount of space given to special areas. For example, the Mongol tribes, Southern, Oceanic, and Northern, occupy 137 pages, as contrasted with 63 allotted to the Caucasic races. Personally speaking, I am inclined to regret that India takes only a secondary place, names of castes and tribes like Badaga, Banjāra, Bhīl, Gond, Gūjar and Khāsi being absent from the Index. Individual predilections will naturally add to these omissions from other areas. But considerations of space obviously and rightly influenced the editors, and if we do not find everything we crave for, we may be thankful that we have got so much. A more serious deficiency is that the Index is practically confined to proper names, those of races and authorities quoted, and there are no entries under subjects. Those who wish for a collection of references on questions like Polyandry, Polygamy, Rain-making, Mother Right, Metals, Kava drinking, Human Sacrifice, and the like, must index these subjects for themselves. A few good ethnographic maps and a selected bibliography would largely add to the value of the work. But the editors have done their work with vast industry and in a scholarly way, and the service they have done to the study of Ethnography cannot easily be overrated.