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CLICK to enlarge.The writers

Tahiti's first explorers became writers when they came back from their trip, in order to describe what they discovered.

Samuel Wallis, who discovered Tahiti, déclares in Voyage Round The World from 1766 to 1768:  " All the women are beautiful and some are of great beauty ".

After his return, in 1771 French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville published his Voyage Around the World:  " I went several times, me being second or third, wandering inside the island. I thought I was in the garden of Eden:  we would walk through a grassy plain covered with beautiful fruit trees and crossed by small streams that kept a delightful freshness, without any of the inconveniences brought by humidity. A large number of people there enjoy treasures that nature gave to them full handedly.  "

 

CLICK to enlarge.Whether James Cook or Joseph Banks, the botanist who accompanied him, brought back from their voyages impressions that contributed to making their contemporaries dream. In his Journal,Joseph Banks writes: "... each one of the chiefs then threw his banana shoot and invited us with sign to do as they did, we were lead there and each one at his turn threw his branch over the branch already left by the Indians. We did as they did and thus peace was made." In his Journal,James Cook: "I have talked on occasion about the Tahitian people's extraordinary like for red feather they call "ura" and which as appreciated here as jewels are in Europe,   especially those they call "Ura Vini" which grow on the head of the green parrot..." (During his two following trips, Cook brought with him many red feathers, which he knew when to distribute when needed)

These early " writers " all give an idyllic image of Tahiti.

The very well known author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville, was above all a traveler in search of paradise lost. In his book Taïpi (1846), he tells about his capture by the tribe of the same name when he landed in the Marquesas. In Omoo (1847), he tells about his adventures in Polynesia. 

Pierre Loti who arrived in Tahiti in 1872 cultivated this myth in his novel Le mariage de Loti (Loti's Mariage):  " Oh! the delightful hours, Oh!  the soft and warm summer hours that we spent there, each day, near the Fataoua River,…  the air was all charged with tropical scents dominated by the fragrance of oranges heated in the branches by the mid day sun... "

The author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert-Louis Stevenson leaves in 1887 for Oceania and discovers several Polynesian Islands. He is struck by the beauty of the Tuamotu and reports his impressions In the South Seas (1890) "a man... fell in love with a native lady... When sollicited, she said that she would never marry a man who was not tattooed: we looked too naked!... Finally tattooed from head to toes, he went to see his mistress.. But from that time, the capricious beauty never looked at him without laughing " 

CLICK to enlarge.In 1907, Victor Segalen, poet and medical doctor in French Navy who spent time in Tahiti and other Society islands, published The Immemorials beautifying the Maohi culture, while deploring its slow disappearance for lack of anything written: "The time was favorable to repeating endlessly, so as not to omit one word, the original beautiful words where, the masters ensure us, are locked the hatching of the worlds, the birth of the stars, the making of the livings, the lust and monstruous labor of Maohi gods." 

Jack London himself, better known for usually snowy universes, was inspired by the beauty of the islands during his cruise aboard the Snark (April 1907 to November 1908) that brought him to Tahiti, the Marquesas and the Tuamotu. His inspirational themes are then renewed and he publishes his autobiographical Travel Log: The Snark cruise, then  Tales of the South Seas.  

Louis Brauquier, in 1930, in Eau douce pour navires (Fresh Water For Ship) told about his stopovers with very delicate poetry: 
" You could stay there, take new habits
" Smoke a pipe by the harbor and watch
" The sailboats leave again for new latitudes…
« In the afternoon, do some oil painting,
« Brown bathing woman on basaltic beaches ;
" Have a drink at the Cercle Bougainville … "

In 1951, a translation of Tahiti In Ancient Times by Teuira Henry is part of this trend to rediscover the incantation accents of Tahitian language, filled with poetry.

In the same vein, Henri Hiro a great Tahitian poet, published  Message poétique which expresses his love for his native land: 
" Oh, love of my land whose restless flow
" bathed my youth at its most tender age 
" Let it still anoint my all mortal body
"  Long live this love, long live ! long live !
"  Long live and may it ever live
"  And water my native land,
"  So that in their swarming may bloom
"  The children of this soil, children of my land,  "

 

Let us also mention  some contemporary writers: novelist Chantal Spitz, poet and essayist Duro Raapoto, poet and essayist Charles Manutah, Writer and poet Louise Peltzer, essayist and biograph Bruno Saura, novelist Chantal Kerdiles.

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