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Book Title: Гончие Бафута|
The author of the book: Gerald Durrell
Date of issue: 1983
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 491 KB
Read full description of the books Гончие Бафута:This is a difficult book to review. On it's surface, and I'm sure at the time it was written it was received this way, it presents itself as a charming account of an expedition to Cameroon to pick up live animals to bring back to England to study, replete with amusing anecdotes about the difficulties of collecting and caring for the animals, and humorous depictions of the people Durrell meets along the way...
Can you spot the problem? It's in the "humorous depictions of the people". This book is the most pure example of a privileged, imperialist perspective that I have ever read. Written by a man who has no qualms, questions, or concerns of any kind about the colonialist system that supports his entire life. It's possible his depiction of the local patois is simply a factual depiction of how the poor English speakers of the area, fluent in other languages, managed to communicate with the English in their midst, but it felt like he played it for maximum "comedic" affect.
I don't want to cite specific examples of racist attitudes, but about halfway through the book he throws out an offhand comment about how he was taking an action not "merely" to demonstrate his inherent racial superiority, but for other more manipulative reasons, and it rather gave the whole game away. Making the subtext text, as they say.
This book made me deeply uncomfortable, and I found myself sometimes wishing I had first encountered Durrell through his more famous My Family and Other Animals, which takes place on the Greek island of Corfu and might thereby have been free of his condescending and dehumanizing view of the Africans he dealt with. In the end, I'm glad I didn't, because avoiding the fact that he had these attitudes doesn't make them go away.
His attitude towards women is hardly superior, as there is an elaborate "comic" scene that presents him finding domestic violence completely acceptable, and reminiscent of proper English society, which disappoints him because he was hoping for something more superstitious as the root cause. There is also his absurd joy in humiliating British women he meets by exposing them to the more earthy behaviors of the monkeys he's captured.
I'm glad I read this book. It's too easy to read books like Burmese Days and assume that Orwell's own complicated views of the colonial system were typical, but I suspect it was attitudes like Durrell's that were far more common. Experiencing that attitude in all it's condescending, myopic glory has been a learning experience, if nothing else. He's a fish in water, and it all seems perfectly natural and appropriate to him.
Glad I read it, but I don't think I'll be picking up any more books by Durrell.
Read information about the authorGerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In his books he writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans and the animals he meets.
On leaving Corfu he returned to England to work on the staff of Whipsnade Park as a student keeper. His adventures there are told with characteristic energy in Beasts in My Belfry. A few years later, Durrell began organising his own animal-collecting expeditions. The first, to the Cameroons, was followed by expeditions to Paraguay, Argentina and Sierra Leone. He recounts these experiences in a number of books, including The Drunken Forest. Durrell also visited many countries while shooting various television series, including An Amateur Naturalist.
In 1958 Gerald Durrell realised a lifelong dream when he set up the Jersey Zoological Park, followed a few years later by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Rosy is My Relative, his first novel, was published in 1968. Whether in a factual account of an expedition or a work of non-fiction, Gerald Durrell's style is exuberant, passionate and acutely observed. Gerald Durrell died in 1995.
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