Book reviews

István Fodor, Tamás Forgács, Edith Moravcsik, Ludmila Alekseevna Shipulina
2005 Acta Linguistica Hungarica  
This book deserves our attention from two particular points of view: the topic of the Eskimos (Inuits) and the author's personal background. It deals with the Eskimos who went willingly or were captured and taken away to Europe (Scotland, England, and Denmark). However, its main focus is on the first and not always peaceful contacts with these aboriginals and on a detailed account of the discovery of Greenland, Baffin Island and Labrador recorded from the first voyages of the Vikings up to the
more » ... xpeditions in the mid-19th century. As to the person of the writer, René Bannerjea was born in 1914, son of an Indian ethnologist and an English mother. His mother tongue is English but he mastered several languages. He accompanied his father to Hungary where, after having enrolled to the Eötvös College in Budapest, he studied Hungarian and Uralic languages (as well as Eskimo, a Paleo-Siberian language). Bannerjea did his PhD and afterwards he taught English in the College as a lecturer. Having married a Hungarian woman, Bannerjea spent eight years in Hungary up to the end of the forties. He learned Hungarian excellently; he even published translations from Hungarian poets into English and French and also some of his own poems (Ma route vers toi. Poèmes sur la Hongrie. Budapest 2001, 2 vols). In the volume reviewed here, the author meticulously compiled all the available data on the topic in 25 chapters, based on descriptions of voyages, diaries, articles of contemporary newspapers and gazettes, paintings and photographs of persons and objects; more than thirty pictures illustrate this book. Especially detailed narratives are devoted to two voyagers and discoverers: Captain Martin Frobisher (1535-1594) and Captain Charles Francis Hall (1821-1871); see pp. 43-84 and 256-330. Some of the Eskimos in question, hardly more than 200 in number, subsequently returned to their homeland while others remained in Europe. They excited wide interest and spectacle in several European countries. Their physical appearance, their garments, their skill in making tools, in paddling, in kayak manoeuvring (and the kayak itself) were a great attraction at that time. In addition to the physical abilities of the Eskimos, most of them were baptized and were intelligent, mastered English or Danish excellently, and worked as interpreters. The lives and activities of two persons are especially reported in detail: Jack Sakeous (pp. 171-204) and Hannah (pp. 246-324), the former arriving in Edinburgh in 1816, the latter with her husband and daughter in 1854 in London. Sakeous' portrait appears on the back cover of this volume, and that of Hannah is shown on the front cover.
doi:10.1556/aling.52.2005.2-3.8 fatcat:d754tflocvdj3k4u6hsvzemlba