chapter  5
“Surely Everything Has Already Been Said About Malinowski’s Diary!”
Pages 13

Melbourne and conscripted peers in war-torn Europe, estranged from the missionaries and the mass of ‘negroes’, and in only superficial contact with his own ‘boys’ and neighbouring white expatriates, Malinowski cuts an extremely marginal figure. Geertz (1967) has pointed out how passionately Malinowski seemed to be living in a European world while working in a Melanesian one, and the diary is indeed peppered by anxious reference to outside relations and states of affairs he is powerless to intercept; his writing is punctuated by the reconstruction and reconsideration of far-off places and people: Z., T, N., Mother, Stas., N.S., E.R.M. It is these and his books, letters and memories which Malinowski primarily uses as yardsticks to judge behaviour and evaluate events, nothing immediate possessing that much reality except as metaphorical comment or reflection (the woman Ineykoya’s death and the Death in Europe). There may be Swedish gymnastics to perform here, photography, ‘plump blondes’, pretty ‘neolithic savages’ to be ‘pawed’ (when they are not ‘performing some strange ritual’)—all of which can be diverting, when not vexingbut it hardly compares to the whirlpool of occurrence (however horrible) back in civilisation and beyond reach. In his prison, that is, Malinowski does not serve what denizens of a criminal underworld would deem ‘good time’, instead catching himself in a number of hopeless love-hate triangles: civilisation-savagesresident colonialists; Polish culture-Anglo Saxon-German; writing ethnography-reading novels-living lustily.