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Other titles in the Cultures and Practice of Violence series:
Hans Staden's True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil (Cultures and Practice of Violence)by Hans Staden
Synopses & Reviews
In 1550 the German adventurer Hans Staden was serving as a gunner in a Portuguese fort on the Brazilian coast. While out hunting, he was captured by the Tupinambá, an indigenous people who had a reputation for engaging in ritual cannibalism and who, as allies of the French, were hostile to the Portuguese. Staden’s True History, first published in Germany in 1557, tells the story of his nine months among the Tupi Indians. It is a dramatic first-person account of his capture, captivity, and eventual escape.
Staden’s narrative is a foundational text in the history and European “discovery” of Brazil, the earliest European account of the Tupi Indians, and a touchstone in the debates on cannibalism. Yet the last English-language edition of Staden’s True History was published in 1929. This new critical edition features a new translation from the sixteenth-century German along with annotations and an extensive introduction. It restores to the text the fifty-six woodcut illustrations of Staden’s adventures and final escape that appeared in the original 1557 edition.
In the introduction, Neil L. Whitehead discusses the circumstances surrounding the production of Staden’s narrative and its ethnological significance, paying particular attention to contemporary debates about cannibalism. Whitehead illuminates the value of Staden’s True History as an eyewitness account of Tupi society on the eve before its collapse, of ritual war and sacrifice among Native peoples, and of colonial rivalries in the region of Rio de Janeiro. He chronicles the history of the various editions of Staden’s narrative and their reception from 1557 until the present. Staden’s work continues to engage a wide range of readers, not least within Brazil, where it has recently been the subject of two films and a graphic novel.
Discourse on cannibalism as seen through the writings of German adventurer, Hans Staden, who was captured in South America in 1550 by the Tupi Indians, who had a reputation of cooking and eating their enemies. This is a new edition.
About the Author
“I was quite astonished to find out that no version of Hans Staden’s account had been printed in English since 1929. Not only is it the earliest eyewitness narrative of the Tupi peoples written by a European; it deals with the heated and enduring debate about the role of cannibalism in human experience.”—Irene Silverblatt, author of Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World
“Neil L. Whitehead’s introduction contextualizes Staden’s account with amazing richness. This is the definitive English edition.”—Mary Louise Pratt, Silver Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, New York University
“There is no doubt that this volume has returned Hans Staden’s narrative to its place as a basic text of European expansion and one of the most important accounts of cannibalism. This 1557 text is important for the wealth of its ethnographic observations, taken at first-hand by Staden, and for the narrative structure, which makes it comparable to the journal of Columbus, Raleigh’s Discoveries, or Jean de Léry’s Histoire.”—Stuart Schwartz, George Burton Adams Professor of History, Yale University
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