December 22, 2008

Forgotten Hero/Anti-Hero

My current bedtime stories of choice is the riveting biography, "The Adventures of Kimball Bent", published in 1911 by James Cowan. The story is that of one man Kimball, born in Maine, ran away to England, pressed into the British army, deserted, captured and repressed into the British army, sent to India, sent to New Zealand, again deserted, then a lifetime spent living among the Maori of Taranaki. Fascinating. My mother-in-law in New Zealand gave me the book as a Christmas present a few years back to provide some context for my travels in Taranaki. (My book pile is a few years long).

What I gather is that this man was not an 'adventurer' per se, or even a 'traveler', but that he traveled across the globe and ended up living with the Maori simply to survive. He's quite a controversial historical figure--some people count him as a traitor, others a coward, etc. etc., but his story is entirely unique and despite grotesque attention to the intricacies of warfare and cannibalism, his life and story capture a time and a place in the world that would have otherwise been falsely historicized neatly on some library shelf. Here's a brief nod to the man by Wikipedia.

So yeah, at night, right before I go to sleep, I'm at the base of a volcano on North Island, circa 1867.

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