|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
At the same time, this isn't a simple source study nor an act of explanatory historical recovery. The conception of the Maori is sophisticated and paradoxical, a portrait of violent but nonetheless idealized masculinity in which dignity depends on the existence of fiercely defiant pride. This lens allows Sanborn to present a radically different view of these fictional characters as well as underscoring the imaginative projection that went into reporting on the Maori themselves. Magua is no longer a stereotypical bad Indian or ignoble savage, but rather a non-white gentleman, an argument that supports Sanborn's contention that throughout his career Cooper prioritizes status equivalence over racial difference. Queequeg is similarly re-imagined, a move that allows Sanborn to explicate scenes in Moby-Dick that are often dodged by other critics because they do not fit with the standard interpretations of the character. The study as a whole provides a vivid example of the fascinating
interplay between fiction and non-fiction in the nineteenth century.