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300 Shorter Book Reviews threat to the nation became greater, the regenerative function of the ecstatic state became more crucial. In the aftermath of the war, from 1871 onwards, Whitman's ecstasy became less daring and dynamic, as in the failed raptures of "Passage to India.'' And some of the shamanic power of the early editions was effacedby Whitman's revisions, as he moved toward the monumental finality of the Deathbed (1892) edition. Hutchinson's claims for his shamanistic model are sometimes overstated, forit relies, as much as the mystical, psychological, sexual, and generic models do,on a selective reading of Leaves of Grass. In championing his ecstatic Whitman, Hutchinson is unduly resistant to Whitman's revisions, and too ready to seethe later editions as regressive. While his shamanistic paradigm helps to explain the ecstatic moments of individual poems, it does not adequately account for the aesthetic principles which govern the entire Leaves of Grass as a cluster of clusters. The search for some single pre-existent cultural key to unlock the mysteries of Whitman's text is itself chimerical, since his elusive discourse resists the containment that any single critical viewpoint on it demands. With these caveats in mind, I recommend Hutchinson's book as a thoughtful, worthwhile contribution to Whitman studies, written by a capable scholar with a genuine empathy for his subject. Narrow though they are in their focus, his readings of individual poems are close and appreciative, and they anchor his broad theoretical concerns in a specific literary context. Furthermore, they quite rightly insist onthe public function served by Whitman's exhaustive investigations of his own pyschic and sexual nature. Hutchinson's coherent statement of the case for a shamanistic model, while it is unlikely to hold the field unchallenged, offers an invaluable additional key to our understanding of Whitman's multifaceted art. Mark Cumming Department of English Memorial University of Newfoundland Robert C. Ritchie. Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986. xi + 306 pp. Maps and Illus. Scholars who share the popular fascination with Captain Kidd will not be the only ones grateful for Robert Ritchie's long awaited reassessment of that noted buccaneer. New sources have not been substantial, but include mail intended for Kidd at Madagascar that was intercepted by the Dutch East India Company atthe Cape of Good Hope, and also by the English navy. Readers may doubt the author's claim that Kidd received duplicates, but the letters of warning and reassurance from New York friends are revealing. Ritchie gives a convincing answer to the central question of whether Kidd wasa Shorter Book Reviews 301 pirateor a victim of politics. He was both. The pirate remains hard to fathom, for hisbackground is unknown and his motives obscure. He was a tough sea captain whohad lost a ship to mutineers, had twice tasted the advantages of political patronage,and was living prosperously in New York City by 1695. Apparently he becamea privateer out of boredom, and a pirate out of the need to meet the economicexpectations of powerful and rapacious investors and a disgruntled crew. A scholarly review of the evidence, presented as a full and well-written narrative,is a notable accomplishment in this particularly scattered and tortured subject./Ls a professional historian, Ritchie does more than slay the legends. He incorporates aspects of recent research on pirates as protesting radicals and democratic"brethren of the coast." Kidd does not fit very well here, and might betterbe regarded as the last of the best-connected English pirates. He was not alienatedenough to escape the Earl of Bellemont's trap. It is in this regard that Kidd's "life represents a turning point in the history of empire as well as in the historyof piracy'' (2). As a victim of politics, Kidd confronted the Board of Trade's new war on piracy,and the political storm over Kidd's financing by the Whig junta helped thoseanxious to tighten administrative and legal authority in the empire. Kidd was oneof several notorious pirates whose execution announced the victory of an officialdomwhich recognized that there was more benefit in unmolested trade thanin plunder. Kidd was caught in what...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 300-301
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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