Notebooks from New Guinea: Field Notes of a Tropical by Vojtech Novotny

By Vojtech Novotny

Hailed via Edward O. Wilson as "one of the main notable books i've got ever read," this exhilarating quantity bargains a unprecedented blend of first-rank technological know-how and top-notch storytelling. Vojtech Novotny, a world-class researcher and an excellent author, works on place in a single of the hardest areas of the world--a high-risk locale rife with tropical illnesses and venomous natural world. in addition, Novotny works heavily with the indigenous peoples--natives who nonetheless hunt nutrients with spear and arrow--involving them in his learn and benefiting from their deep familiarity with this rugged panorama. accordingly, he has many a desirable story to inform, and he's a wonderful storyteller. certainly, this is often an strange and engaging choice of virtually 100 short vignettes, adventurous stories, and reflections that light up the local tradition and what the West can examine from it. Ably translated by means of David brief, this delightfully attractive booklet brings to life--with heat and wisdom--the position, the folks, and the pursuit of information deep within the jungles of recent Guinea.

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In some areas her purchase price can be in excess of £5,000, which, compared to the local economy and average incomes, is a truly astronomical Wgure that no young man keen to marry can aVord. But then he doesn’t have to, because in a highly organized fashion his entire kin, each roughly in proportion to his inXuence, wealth, and closeness to the groom, club together to Wnd it. In reverse, on the bride’s side, the entire sum trickles down among her vastly extended family. As in any transaction there are, here too, some inevitable losses, such as the cost of the wedding feast, but, that apart, the capital expended on the purchase of wives can be used repeatedly in an endless merrygo-round.

However, each side suspects that it would be utterly impossible to get used to the social relations of the other. In a New Guinea village I personally would go berserk from the excess of attentive neighbours long before the absence of electricity got to me. Experience of a traditional village leads me almost straight to the conjecture that what has driven great migrations, conquests, voyages of discovery, urbanization, and various developments in technology that have released people from dependence on the land is not so much the search for new economic opportunities as headlong Xight from kith and kin.

But for the Summer Institute of Linguistics, commissions of this kind are the order of the day. The long text is of course the Bible, and the object is to translate it into as many of the aboriginal languages of New Guinea as possible. After a brief course on how to survive in rural New Guinea, the Bible translator sets up shop in the village of his choice and starts work. With prodigious help from the locals, the job is done in a few years, the Bible is printed and then sold for a token Wgure.

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