Mr Bligh's Bad Language

Mr Bligh's Bad Language

Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty

"Greg Dening has produced a powerful new account of an event that has, over two cen- turies, helped to define our modern under- standings of tyranny and resistance. His tale about Bligh and the mutineers is imaginative and learned, engaging and entertaining, much to be enjoyed by anyone interested in the society and culture of wooden ships and iron men." —Marcus Rediker, Georgetown University

Captain Bligh and the voyage of the Bounty are the starting point of this new study of the famous mutiny in history, literature and film. By juxtaposing an account of the mutiny with an analysis of its evolving place in history and culture, Mr. Bligh's Bad Language offers a new interpretation of the mutiny in the context of its historical and cultural representations.

Beginning with an analysis of naval life and ritual aboard the Bounty, Greg Dening argues that the famous mutiny did not take place due to punitive violence, as Captain Bligh is shown to be one of the least violent of British Navy captains. Instead, he argues, Captain Bligh misunderstood the theatrical nature of shipboard life, especially his role as captain.

Moving to a larger stage, the scope of the book shifts to the reception of the mutiny in England in the eighteenth century. Connecting the voyage of the Bounty with the cultural exploration and revolutions of the age, Greg Dening shows that a mythology arose almost immediately around the participants of the mutiny and their actions, a mythology that has been continually reinterpreted into twentieth century literature and film.

Gracefully written, Mr. Bligh's Bad Language is an anthropological history of a new order, weaving the history of the Bounty with its role in our culture. Using a range of influences from Diderot to Foucault, Greg Dening reconstructs the voyage of the Bounty as moving between history and mythology, circumventing a dozen discourses.

—from the dust jacket

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