Antoine Édouard Foleÿ's Eki (Paris: 1874): a critical bilingual edition
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Antoine Édouard Foleÿ (1820-1901) was stationed at the French naval base of Akaroa, New Zealand, from 1843 to 1846. In 1874, he published in Pads a short work of fiction, Eki, which is largely narrated by a Maori woman from Banks Peninsula on the South Island of New Zealand who tells the story of her family. The work is of interest for what it has to say about Maori life before large-scale British colonisation of New Zealand began and for its attempt, unusual in nineteenth-century French or English fiction, to describe the world from the point of view of a Maori woman. Foleÿ was a scientist, naval officer and doctor who was greatly influenced by his close friend, the Positivist, Auguste Comte, and this is seen in his views on the evolution of human cultures, expressed here and in a number of other published works, including articles in anthropological and ethnological journals. He had also read and partly translated George Grey's Polynesian Mythology, which is a major influence on the writing of Eki. This is not an exotic, orientalist novel depicting another culture from the outside, but an anti-colonial work which sets out to express what it is like to be a Maori woman. A young Frenchman, Édouard, is her pupil as he learns about Maori ways while Eki, the heroine, confident of her own traditional Maori values and beliefs, performs the civilising role that Comte attributed to women. The thesis presents a corrected text of the 1874 Parisian edition of Eki, along with an annotated translation into English. Analytical chapters place Eki in the context of Foleÿ's life, his other published works, Comtean thought, traditional oral literature and nineteenth-century fiction, and traditional Maori culture. References cited in the text or footnotes are listed at the end.