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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/190

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1 66 Reviews.

Myths and Sofigs of the South Pacific^ p. 40, which are here clothed with Hfe. With the exception of four stories from other islands, taken from Gill and Turner, she claims to have collected the contents of the book from the Maoris, among whom she has travelled. We see no reason to doubt the claim ; but if we are to judge by White's Ancieiit History of the Maoris the most authentic collection of Maori tales, it is obvious that the stories are not given precisely as they were received. This, of course, was im- possible in a work meant to interest children. But while we may admit that she has in the main adhered " to the true spirit of the tales themselves," her endeavour " to give them the form, ex- pression, and speech characteristic of the country and clever native race " has hardly been so successful. They have, in fact, been passed through the mind of a practised writer belonging to a totally different civilisation, and have issued glorified with descriptions of scenery and dramatic touches foreign to native ideas. Incidentally, however, the change of form presents the advantage of accounts of customs and superstitions, like, for example, those contained in the tale of " Rata's Revenge," of which the variants in Gill, Grey, and White are quite destitute. On the other hand, these variants do suggest a process of selection and piecing together of the most picturesque and effective in- cidents never contemplated by the native tellers ; and this may have rendered her reproductions often widely different from the narratives on which they are founded. It is much to be regretted, from a scientific point of view, that the authoress has not been explicit on the subject. It would have been easy to give in the notes the names and particulars of the natives from whom she heard the stories, and a short analysis of the variants she has com bined. Even the references to such well-known writers as men- tioned above are usually imperfect, and sometimes incorrect. The book was intended to have some value beyond that of amusing children, or why incumber it with notes ? If it was worth while to do so, the notes ought to have been full and correct.

Mr. Atkinson's illustrations are spirited and generally beautiful. They have, moreover, the value of being drawn from studies " of natives and native surroundings " made on the spot.