The Myth of the Noble Savage: The Cultural Imagination of Romantic Ecology
|Keywords:||生態高貴野蠻人;《泰比》;《大草原》;世間樂園;庫伯;高貴野蠻人;〈西雅圖酋長演說〉;梅爾維爾;The Prairie (1827);Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846);Herman Melville;James Fenimore Cooper;Earthly Paradise||Issue Date:||2004||Abstract:||null
This thesis examines the cultural construction of the myth of the noble savage. I will endeavor to connect this Western-created myth with the romantic ecology, defined here as an imagination of a harmony between the primitive culture (people) and the natural environment. Discontent with the Western civilization, the myth-creators of the noble savage embody their dreams in the yearnings for innocence, the myth of “return to nature,” the encounter with an exotic other, the search for Earthly Paradise, and the “discovery” of Adam- and Eve-like savages still living happily and freely in a state of nature before the Fall. Therefore, by attempting to trace the development of the myth, I hope my study can reveal the potential ecological voice inherent in the myth and shed new light on the contemporary environmental crisis.
My introduction traces the myth-making of the noble savage. In the first chapter, by delving into the Western imagination wavering between the nobility and the ignobility, I will argue that the images of the native inhabitants (the Native Americans) are nothing more than cultural constructs, produced according to the different interests in the different contexts. The second chapter deals with James Fenimore Cooper’s The Prairie (1827) in its historical context. The focus is placed upon Leatherstocking, the idealized American Adam who exists in harmony with nature and thus embodies a voice for the modern ecological conscience. The third chapter explores the complex faces of Herman Melville’s Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846). Tommo, Melville’s narrator, romanticizes the Typees as noble savages living in an “ambiguous” Earthly Paradise. The fourth chapter will begin with a discussion of “Chief Seattle’s Speech” (1887). I will elaborate the new green myth of the “ecologically noble savage,” an idea invented from 1990s to extol the ecological virtues of the Native Americans. An epilogue traces the undying dreams of the “myth” and its consequences in the twentieth century. Against any eco-purist views and any forms of stereotype, I conclude that the vision in the imagination of romantic ecology and the environmental wisdom of the Native American voices could illuminate a path for our reintegration with the earth.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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