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I Myself Have Seen It (National Geographic Directions)by Susanna Moore
Synopses & Reviews
The oldest of the Hawaiian islands, Kauai is remarkably unchanged. It is the only island from which the others are not visible, except for tiny, privately owned Niihau. With a population of only 5,000 people, Kauai retains a 19th-century ruralism, managing to accommodate the "mainland" world without losing its mystery and beauty. As a child, Susanna Moore spent her school holidays on Kauai, and it is there she returns to find the elusive heart of Hawaii.
"I am interested in what might be called the written and unwritten songs of Hawaii, as they are found not only in oral tradition, but in myth, poetry, music, and the landscape itself.... The myths were strong, and they are still present — sometimes hidden, sometimes less evident to an unaccustomed eye, " Moore writes. In the breathtaking landscape of Kauai, she discovers that the old, unwritten songs of Polynesia have survived despite the onslaught of missionaries in the early 18th century, the establishment of Hawaiian-language newspapers, and foreign attempts to free Hawaiians of their pagan superstitions. These songs and the ones engendered by them, written by queens and hula masters and Presbyterian ministers alike, become the evocative centerpiece for Susanna Moore's mesmerizing discovery of Hawaii.
The acclaimed novelist returns to her native Hawaii to offer a celebration of the myth, culture, landscape, and music of Kauai as it reveals the rich Polynesian traditions that have shaped the modern island state.
The islands of Hawaii have often served Susanna Moore as the canvas for her lush and haunting novels. In I Myself have Seen It, she proves the mystery, beauty, and myth of her native islands to be every bit as compelling as her fiction. She interweaves her own memories of growing up in Honolulu in the 1950s and '60s with a concise chronicle of Hawaii's two-hundred-year encounter with the West. Seeking the elusive heart of Hawaii, Moore revisits the small rural island of Kauai. In the breathtaking landscape, she discovers that old, unwritten songs of Polynesia have survived despite the onslaught of missionaries in the early 18th century, the establishment of Hawaiian-language newspapers, and foreign attempts to free Hawaiians of their pagan superstitions. These songs and the ones engendered by them, written by queens and hula masters alike, become the centerpiece for Moore's mesmerizing discovery of the real Hawaii.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 179-184).
About the Author
Susanna Moore was raised in Hawaii and now lives in New York City. She is the author of The Whiteness of Bones, Sleeping Beauties, and In the Cut. My Old Sweetheart, her first novel, won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Citation and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
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