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Whipscars and Tattoos – The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, and the Maori - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Whipscars and Tattoos: The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, and the Maori

Geoffrey Sanborn


This book combines history, biography, and close reading to produce radically new interpretations of two of the most important novels in American history. After an introductory chapter on the early nineteenth-century image of the Maori, the book demonstrates, in a series of interlinked chapters, that Magua in The Last of the Mohicans and Queequeg in Moby-Dick were modeled on Maori chiefs. In a sharp reversal of the conventional understanding of Magua, the book argues that Cooper means us to see him not as a villainous “bad Indian” but as a fiercely majestic and intelligent “gentle ... More

Keywords: James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, New Zealand, Maori, chiefs

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780199751693
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751693.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Geoffrey Sanborn, author
Bard College
Author Webpage