Editor's Literary Record
Regular Feature, Review
Nadaillac Du Pouget 1885
Archaeology, Prehistory, Ethnology, Human Development, Theory, Controversy, Heterodoxy
Praises Jean F A S Nadaillac Du Pouget as being 'like a sober man among drunkards' in his reflections on the 'antiquities of America'. While 'All manner of attempts have been made to connect' the 'enigmatic remains' of 'Mexico, Peru, and Yucatan' with the 'civilisations of the Old World' [see HM1/9/3/2], Nadaillac Du Pouget bravely 'refuses to try to explain American civilisation as borrowed or influenced by that of foreign peoples', arguing instead that the 'art and industries of the New World were gradually developed by the native races', and accounting for 'likenesses to Cyclopean, or Assyrian, or Egyptian art by the natural processes of the minds of men, working with similar materials for similar purposes'. In this 'he will carry the votes of most ethnologists with him', for the notion that 'similarity of artistic products, of customs, or of beliefs, indicates original community of race, or transmission, or borrowing, is an idea gradually being shelved' in favour of the conception that 'at similar stages of culture, human beings, however remote in race and space, do and believe almost exactly the same kind of things'. Claims that 'Dr. Le Plongeon', who subscribes to the former view, is 'an energetic traveller, but a theorist in whom we have very little confidence'. (314) Later, remarks that 'In America M. de Nadaillac has displayed the limitations of an art which he regards as autochthonous, though Mr. Tylor has shown reasons for believing in certain Asiatic influences' (317).
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