Peace Elements

The Papalagi1

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Have included this critique of the work.
Feel free to add your own comments following. -ts-

The book was first published in 1920 in Germany. Some give the year of publishing as 1936; maybe so, but the first Dutch edition is from 1929, according to the Real Free Press edition of 1976. Erich Scheurmann, a German novelist, in the 1920s visited Samoa, then a German colony. When World War I broke out, he was interned until the end of it. His story is that he collected speeches by Tiavuii (which means "chief") without his consent and translated them to German. The resulting book has quite a reputation with a certain type of goat-hair socked anthropologists, no offense. My idea is German Erich Scheurmann thought it up himself, needing no help from "Tuiavii of Tiavea", whose real name was Agaese, at all ("tuavii" just means "chief"). The book is presented as discourses by a South Sea chief who has visited Europe. His point is not so badly taken. Very much anti-technology and back to the simple and oh-so-good natural life; very popular on the hippie scene: The book's ideals just fit too well in there. Naturally, translator Martin Beumer and publisher Olaf Stoop did not care much for my opinion that it was a hoax. I was therefore delighted to be contacted many years later by professor Grant McCall of the University of New South Wales, Sidney, Australia, who requested a copy. He told me he had held lectures about the book for Samoans, who "were puzzled" by it. Small wonder, as Tiaveii, far from being anti-European, was a member of the German army in Samoa; and, far from being anti-western religion, was a christian. Also contrary to the stories in the book he never visited Europe, let alone hold speeches on it for his fellow Samoans. There was more on the controversy in the Samoa Observer.

Scheurmann, born in Hamburg 1878, was a painter, writer, dramatist, recounter of fairy tales, meddled with psychological fringe areas, was a puppeteer, teacher and preacher. At the age of nineteen he made a wandering trip through all of Germany. From 1903 he lived on the peninsula of Höri in the Bodensee, where he met with Herman Hesse.

He travelled to Samoa in 1914 on an advance from his publisher, to be surprised there by the start of W.W.I. He was interned in the U.S.A. in autumn 1916, and returned to Germany only shortly before the war ended. From 1930 he lived in Armsfeld where he died at the age of 79 in 1957.

Erich Scheurmann has not even stolen only the person of "Tuavii" to sell his ideas on The Papalagi; the very idea of his book is based on that of another German, "pacifistic Tolstojan" (whatever that means) Hans Paasche, who wrote Die Forschungsreise des Afrikaners Lukanga Mukara ins innerste Deutschland [The Expedition of the African Lukanga Mukara to the Interior of Germany]. I find this book completely unreadable, but it is more honest in its representation than The Papalagi; if you are fooled into thinking that this has been written by a real African this might have surprised Paasche. Paasche's book, again, reminds me of the hilarious Mark Twain short story How the Animals of the Wood Sent out a Scientific Expedition (first part of Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls, 1875).

There also exists a Letter to the president of the USA, famous or notorious depending on your point of view, by "Chief Seattle"; it can be found on the web and is very popular with the more primitive brand of conservationists. But it's an obvious hoax: What Indian would refer to himself as a "redskin"? I only mention it because these three works tend to flock together.

Especially in the [19] seventies and eighties The Papalagi was beloved reading matter in alternative circles. The printed editions of this almost forgotten book suddenly jumped to more than half a million copies. But, according to Joachim Meissner on the German Süd-West Rundfunk in March 2000, Erich Scheurmann justified colonialism and, later, even wrote propaganda texts for the National Socialists [Nazis]. When I found out about that I could not even be very surprised anymore. Alas, all this makes the hoax rather less amusing.

Works by Erich Scheurmann 1911 Ein Weg A Way 1920 Der Papalagi The Papalagi

Reader Comments and DiscussionEdit

Friends ...
My feeling is:
Regardless of whether or not this is a work of fiction ...
it is still a great piece of art. A most wonderful story.
It may indeed not be factual ...
but so what?
Like all Great fiction ...
there is great truth to be found within these pages.
I am reminded of a truly expert teller of stories ...
another great spinner of yarns ...
one of my all time favorite writers ... Mark Twain.
I have a feeling that those who would nay-say this work ...
or write it off as being of no value ...
to not explore it with open mind for the truth that is to be found here ...
are indeed Papalagi ...
the very people our hero Tuavii speaks of in this work. ;) lol
ENJOY this most marvelous piece of writing.

The PapalagiEdit

1. Introduction

2. How The Papalagi Cover Their Flesh With Numerous Loincloths And Mats

3. Stone Crates, Stone Islands, Fissures And The Things In Between

4. The Round Metal And The Heavy Paper

5. The Papalagi Are Poor Because Of Their Many Things

6. The Papalagi Have No Time

7. The Papalagi Made God Poor

8. The Great Spirit Is Stronger Than Machines

9. Professions Of The Papalagi And The Confusion That Is Their Result

10. The Places Of Pseudo-Life And The ‘Many Papers‘

11. The Severe Disease of Thinking

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