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Noa Noa: The Tahiti Journal of Paul Gauguin Hardcover – September 1, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Gauguin may have been guilty of buying into the myth of the ``noble savage,'' but his Romantic quest seems almost contemporary today. In his own post-Rousseau, premulticultural time, however, his Tahitian escapade was viewed less sanguinely. On his return to France, unable to find a publisher, Gauguin himself published his diary, Noa Noa, minus the accompanying woodblock illustrations. Now the journal and art are reunited in this verbal and visual ode to Tahiti. The black-and-white woodblock prints present a spare contrast to the usual wash of colors in Gauguin's paintings, but they retain the pacific sensuality that permeates his work. The color here comes from the sketches Gauguin made in the margins of his diary, and from the writing itself: ``Silence? I am learning to know the silence of a Tahitian night.... The rays of the moon play through the bamboo reeds.... Between me and the sky there was nothing except the high frail roof of pandanus leaves, where the lizards have their nests.'' -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Special Oc edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081180366X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811803663
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,214,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a jewel of an art book by one of the greatest painters of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Originally considered too racy to publish in France, this 2005 English edition of the banned 1894 illustrated personal journal is probably how Paul Gauguin would have liked to have seen his text and art work combined for publication. The color and layout do justice to his artistic creations. The only change the artist might have still wished for was to have the book's format slightly larger since some of his woodcuts and the original journal itself are slightly larger than this reproduction of the work.
The book has a short 1962 introduction by W. Somerset Maugham that is somewhat amusing in that it tells how Maugham traveled to Tahiti to research Gauguin for a book he was considering writing about the island's most famous painter. He found one of the actual huts where Gauguin had lived and worked and purchased one of the glass panels that Gauguin had painted for one of the hut's three doors. The children living in the hut had passed the time scratching the windows clean and already destroyed the other two door paintings. Maugham bought the half door containing the one surviving glass panel with its painting of "Eve, nude, with the apple in her hand" still intact for four hundred francs and had it shipped back to his home in New York. It was in his writing room at the time he wrote the introduction for this volume.
Relating the antidote of Maugham's good luck and prowess at art collecting was the only subject covered in the introduction. But it did illustrate how little remained in Tahiti of Gauguin's stay in the Island Paradise. There was even less left there after the famous writer's research visit.
Gauguin's text is much more interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie Harvey on June 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled upon a used copy of "Noa Noa" in 1985 as I passed by a street vendor selling books in New York City. I briefly glanced over his selection until the words "Noa Noa" jumped out at me. I couldn't believe I had found a copy of Paul Gaugin's book for sale on the streets of New York. I instantly bought it and have kept it with me ever since.

Paul Gaugin is one of the great post-impressionist painters whose art can be found in most museums around the world. Not only is he an accomplished painter, but a creative writer as well. His "journal of the south seas" is witty, humorous and is a poetically descriptive record of the artist's first trip to the island of Tahiti.

Paul Gaugin traveled to Tahiti because he wanted to free himself from the European struggles and live in a more natural and peaceful place. In "Noa Noa" he documents his travels to the island and shares his new experiences, which seem much freer than how we live today. It explains his fascination with the beautiful women of Tahiti, an attraction which led to some of the most famous paintings in art history. I very much enjoyed reading this journal and, as an artist myself, found it very inspiring.

"Noa Noa" is translated from french by O. F. Theis

Reviewed by Julie Harvey
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book detailing a few pages from his journal. It has great wood-cut reprints and is a quick read. It puts you into the spirit of Tahiti.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Frazier on October 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a lovely book... and, brief though it is, helped me to understand more about Gauguin's reasons behind his actions. I read it at a perfect time - when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY was holding one of their most important exhibits on Gauguin and featured his wood cuts. It's a colourful, passionate and painful journey.
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