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October 2, 2010 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Forty years among the Zulus, twenty-five years in Honan, twenty-one years in India, thirty years in India, thirty years in Nyasaland, eighteen years in the Khyber, twice around the world, twenty years in the Himalaya, four years in the White North, thirty years in the Arctic regions, thirty years in Madagascar, five years in a Persian town, eight years in Iran, fifty-three years in Syria, four years in Ashantee, forty years in Burma, five years in the Sudan, thirty years in Australia, forty years in Brazil.

Fifteen years in Korea, eight years in Japan, nine years in Nipon, half a century in China, forty-five years in China, forty years in South China, twenty-six years in China, two years in the Forbidden City, thirty years in Moukden, thirty years in the Manchu Capital, ten years in Manchuria.

Sixty years in Texas, two years in California, fifty years in a Maryland kitchen, two years in Oregon, four years in the saddle, sixty years in Canada, six years in the Canadian North-West, thirty years in the Canadian North-West, three years in Arkansaw, five years in the free states of America, four years in Secessia, twenty-five years in the Black Belt, fifty years in chains.

Forty years among the Jews, twenty years among the Mexicans, twelve years among the wild Indians of the plains, forty years among the Indians, fifteen years among the Mormons, seventeen years among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo, fifty years among the sailors, twelve years among the colored people, forty years among the old booksellers of Philadelphia, ten years among the mail bags, thirty-five years in the Divorce Court, thirty years in hell.
posted by shii (44 comments total) 130 users marked this as a favorite

 
A most excellent compendium, thanks shii. This will be my reading list for some time to come.
posted by unliteral at 3:36 AM on October 2, 2010


Jaysus, that's a lot of reading.

Perhaps there's no need for me to write "Six-and-a-half Years In New York", "One Year In Greece", "Three Years In Leeds" and "Eighteen Years In Grimsby" after all. Especially that last one.
posted by Decani at 3:50 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn, that's some kinda life!
posted by kcds at 3:50 AM on October 2, 2010


By my possibly faulty count, that's fifty-five links totaling 1,320 years. WOW.

Almost the very definition of "tl;dr" because who has 1,320 years to spare?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:56 AM on October 2, 2010


I look forward to adding my own contribution Eleventy Seven Years Reading All This Great Stuff On Archive.Org. The final chapter will be an unfinished masterpiece as our brave heroine overdoses on doritos and is finally institutionalised because of her own poorly made soundtrack decisions.
posted by shinybaum at 3:58 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Be aware that most of these books are by missionaries or church leaders (i.e. people whose lives are too boring to think of a clever title for their book). It's interesting to read and consider missionary work as a form of soft imperialism, but I can't imagine you'd want to read more than half a dozen. I posted nonetheless because the worldwide range of 19th century experiences offered is quite enticing to look at.

That reminds me, there are some titles that didn't fit the mold but seem interesting regardless:

Islam and missions : being papers read at the second Missionary conference on behalf of the Mohammedan world at Lucknow (1911)
Through Uganda to Mount Elgon ("Through X to Y" is a whole post in itself)
False gods, or, The idol worship of the world : a complete history of idolatrous worship throughout the world, ancient and modern : describing the strange beliefs, practices, superstitions, temples, idols, shrines, sacrifices, domestic peculiarities, etc., etc., connected therewith (804 pages and countless illustrations... God knows why)
Are foreign missions doing any good? (or were they just a scam that allowed enterprising Christians to go travel around the world? Hmmm...)
The living Christ and dying heathenism : the experiences of a missionary in animistic heathendom (ah... this is the book that I wanted to use to supplement a Zizek quote. Then I got distracted and made this post instead)
posted by shii at 4:00 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sure but they're like Diary of a Nobody in unselfaware irony and self important douchebaggery. I find this compelling.
posted by shinybaum at 4:04 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still working on my Ten Years Among the Mefites. This post will help me a lot with the chapter on stunty posts.
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on October 2, 2010 [13 favorites]


Conspicously absent is Harris Newmark's long and boring Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913. Life in tiny LA for a large extended family of Jews who escaped persecution in 19th century Prussia.

Plus---on a more personal note---a compendium of the extensive inbreeding among my own ancestors!
posted by dongolier at 4:54 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Be aware that most of these books are by missionaries or church leaders (i.e. people whose lives are too boring to think of a clever title for their book).

Strange that you should dismiss missionaries in this way. When I was studying the literature of anthropology, some of the most fascinating and best-written old ethnographies were by missionaries -- a group that seemed to have included many spectacularly brave, imaginative, and observant individuals. The missionary enterprise of the 19th century was in many ways a wonderful, mad crusade, and though it's deficits are clear to us now, in an era with fewer outlets for casual adventure, it attracted some very interesting and far from boring minds.
posted by Faze at 5:14 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sorry. Let me backtrack again. I do think missionaries are interesting, for precisely the reasons you list; but I'm not sure how many people share that belief.
posted by shii at 5:17 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The recipes in 50 years in a Maryland kitchen are great, but the author hasn't yet converted me.

I guess I'll just live with that.
posted by Ahab at 5:21 AM on October 2, 2010


Medicine for Canary Birds

Make a little saffron tea, and pour in it one or two drops of sweet oil. Catch the bird when it is asleep, and give it about half a tea-spoonful. You will find you can dose you patient with little trouble, and the following morning will prove the value of the prescription.
It is also good to put a pinch of saffron in the water the bird drinks.
If the bird is only slightly drooping, put an iron nail in the water in the cage, and let it remain some time.

Now I'm converted.
posted by Ahab at 5:33 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The missionary enterprise of the 19th century was in many ways a wonderful, mad crusade,

Don't forget the contribution to the world of sexual positions!
posted by telstar at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


This, good people of Metafilter, is a superb FPP.

Wow.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or as the joke went about the old naval buffer's memoirs, "Twenty years before the mast, forty years behind the times."
posted by Abiezer at 5:47 AM on October 2, 2010


It happened that I was just thinking of Asking Metafilter what books they would recommend that were free in epub format, because I have archaic, arcane tastes, a Sony Reader to fill up, and am cheap. Sure as a by-God, here's a post to answer that question before I asked it!
posted by Countess Elena at 6:56 AM on October 2, 2010


Countess Elena, be aware that many of the Internet Archives books won't work well in a Sony Reader. The Sonys tend to limit the size of "chapters" in an epub book, and the IA books are often just one long "chapter" due to the way they are automatically converted from scans.

Likewise due to auto-conversion (OCR) they can often be misformatted and hard to read. Generally they're best read in scanned image form.
posted by nev at 7:14 AM on October 2, 2010


I've definitely downloaded some very poor, even unreadably misspelled scans -- I didn't keep track of whether they were from Archive or Gutenberg, but that may be it.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:16 AM on October 2, 2010


If the bird is only slightly drooping, put an iron nail in the water in the cage, and let it remain some time.

I don't know about the saffron, but if your canary is "drooping" due to iron-deficiency anemia, this could actually help.
posted by bookish at 7:20 AM on October 2, 2010


Wow.They just don't write books like that anymore. I love how in the (extraordinarily detailed) table of contents of the book I downloaded the author jumps seamlessly back and forth from discussions of historical and political events to personal details like "One of my sons gets a thorn in his cheek as an infant -- Only gets rid of it more than twenty years afterwards" and then it's back to geography and ethnography.
posted by Forktine at 7:31 AM on October 2, 2010


For those with a shorter attention span there's always Thirty days in the Hole.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:40 AM on October 2, 2010


Even shorter: Six Days on the Road (in two minutes).
posted by hangashore at 8:43 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've definitely downloaded some very poor, even unreadably misspelled scans -- I didn't keep track of whether they were from Archive or Gutenberg, but that may be it.

Project Gutenberg books are edited by volunteers through an extremely time-consuming process, so it was probably an Archive.org book. (That same process is why Internet Archive has millions of books and Gutenberg only has a few tens of thousands.)
posted by theodolite at 8:50 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is awesome, thanks!
posted by torisaur at 9:06 AM on October 2, 2010


20 years in my couch.
posted by qvantamon at 9:20 AM on October 2, 2010


1 minute on my toilet bowl.
posted by Skygazer at 9:27 AM on October 2, 2010


From the "50 Years in a Maryland Kitchen" (1888) this recipe for Stuffed Peaches:
Put them in salt and water that will bear an egg, and let them remain about four days and nights, until they are tough. Cut the top part off, and take the stones out. To two dozen peaches, take one and a half pints of horse-radish scraped ; a couple of garlic minced ; black and white mustard seed ; quarter of a pound each ; half a table-spoonful of cayenne pepper; black pepper; and celery seed; all mixed in a little vinegar. Stuff the peaches and sew them up. Pour cold vinegar over them.
posted by stbalbach at 9:29 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the last link:

Who for thirty long years tread the slippery and deceitful path
of abhorrent Catholicism, but who to-day stands at the
Vatican's door, with the torch of Protestant wisdom,
and denounces Popery with a tongue
livid with the power of
a living God.

Like a Meteor From God's Throne,

This great book has stirred America from center to circumference.

About 400 Large Pages,

And each Page a stinging rebuke to Roman Catholicism.


Now that's how you sell a book.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:37 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, so I used to think senior citizens, college students with too many texts to lug around, and the crippled or infirmed (and those deserted on an Island, mysteriously supplied with electricity and an endless supply of generic fruit loops)...should be the only, abso-mo-lutely fuggin' ONLY folks not shamed into the middle of next week and seven ways from Sunday to Peter Bezos's ass for using such crap plastic transitional techno-mo-loligy as an "e-reader" (duh) and have you ever noticed how stupid people look in public using e-readers, especially in bars, sucking on a light beer...pffft. Light beer and e-readers. Perfect together. But I digress, what I'm trying to get to here is that there's another group who it's okay for them to use "e-readers" and that would be compulsive obsessive researcher types with way too much time on their hands who really, REALLY get off on primary research material.

I think it is okay for them to use "e-readers."

(Maybe, just not in public.)

/hurf durf....grah...grrr..
posted by Skygazer at 9:40 AM on October 2, 2010


wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:43 AM on October 2, 2010


I'm in love. See you guys in 10 years.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:16 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not quite in the same format, but also interesting is Slave Songs of the United States (1867). The authors were Northern missionaries at the Sea Islands of South Carolina, teaching the Gullah folk left behind when the slave owners fled.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:44 AM on October 2, 2010


Inspires me to contemplate writing "16 years in Malaya, 15 years in India, 9 years in the United States, 2 years in Singapore and almost 2 in the Arctic Circle"

but seriously, thank you for the carefully crafted FPP though I must add my two heathenish currency units worth on this point:

I do think missionaries are interesting, for precisely the reasons you list; but I'm not sure how many people share that belief.

Stepping aside from the individual human beings who are worthy, the basic concept of missionaries has always set my back up. As a non christian with no intent to convert and from a third world country, the very idea creates images of patronizing good works, Mother Hubbards and reminds you of the eyes that look at you as though you were somehow less than human for being "pagan" or "heathen" or whatever. Ironic when you consider the scriptures in my homeland were probably written a couple of thousand years before the advent of yet another wise man, in a long line of wise men who have visited Earth to share thoughts of peace and love and non violence.

Having lived among myriads of culture, belief systems and religions, I have found that there is no "one true way" but each must find his/her own path towards enlightenment and inner peace through critical thought and development of one's own value system and beliefs. Respect diversity of beliefs and thoughts just as we are learning slowly to respect diversity in eye and hair colour.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:05 AM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


10 seconds in this thread.
posted by bwg at 11:18 AM on October 2, 2010


Wow, thank you so much. And I thought my to read list was long before. Ouch.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2010


what aelfy said.

they have Mouhot for download. This is what Metafilter is for. bravo.
posted by clavdivs at 1:03 PM on October 2, 2010


Five minutes on my front lawn.
posted by zippy at 2:10 PM on October 2, 2010


Six years on MetaFilter.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 2:38 PM on October 2, 2010


I'll be out with "Eight Years in Peoria" directly.

as soon as I stop screaming when I look at that phrase
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:43 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a non christian with no intent to convert and from a third world country, the very idea creates images of patronizing good works, Mother Hubbards and reminds you of the eyes that look at you as though you were somehow less than human for being "pagan" or "heathen" or whatever.

No doubt right in some cases. On the other hand, imagine if you will that you truly honestly absolutely with utter conviction no foolin' cross your heart and hope to die believed that if someone did not believe the way you believe that that person would spend an eternity in hellfire and damnation without a chance for redemption now and forever world without end. Would you not then see it as the finest calling possible to try to save others? I mean, it's not as if most of these people didn't have easier options in life.

I speak as a non Christian from a first world country who is always polite and thanks the God botherers, be they Adventist or Mormon, when they knock on my door, even if I'm not buying the product. Frankly, I'm a tad humbled that they think I'm worth the effort, especially when I see the kind of crap they have to put up with on a day to day basis.

Though granted, I don't see them writing a lot of books out there putting me and mine under the microscope. Be kind of interesting if they did.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:12 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, imagine if you will that you truly honestly absolutely with utter conviction no foolin' cross your heart and hope to die believed that if someone did not believe the way you believe that that person would spend an eternity in hellfire and damnation without a chance for redemption now and forever world without end. Would you not then see it as the finest calling possible to try to save others? I mean, it's not as if most of these people didn't have easier options in life.

:) ironically proselytizing? Live and let live, brother
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:27 PM on October 2, 2010


I have no irony, alas, and I despite the emoticon I worry that you miss my point. I was in fact I hope gently suggesting the commentator to cut the authors a little slack for their putting some strongly held beliefs into practice. Letting them, as it were, live and let live, however incidentally annoying their habits might be.

And do admit, this kind of old time proselytizing beats hell out of the My Way Or We Stone You To Death / Burn You At The Stake school of persuasion.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:44 PM on October 2, 2010


I'm into "Thirty Years in Moukden", and I'm pleasantly surprised by the author. He makes me think well of his presence in China and the missionary project in general.
" Tues., 1st Dec. At a town of 1000 inhabitants. People very hostile and suspicious. Servant was asked by several what was the secret purpose at the bottom of our visit. Feared none would trust us or our drugs. At last a young man came forward suffering from a simple abscess. An incision gave great and immediate relief, and did wonders in our favour. Saw 42 cases.

" Wed., 2nd Dec. Passed through fine mountainous scenery, where are tigers, etc. Yesterday two cows were devoured, and last winter a young man was carried away by a tiger from quite near a house we passed, and never heard of again.

" Thurs., 3rd Dec. At one village people very suspicious. The sight of my stethoscope made a man run for his life.

" Frid., 4th Dec. Reached Yungling, a large Manchu town. Expected opposition, but found the opposite. A mandarin who was treated in Moukden called on us and this influenced the whole town."

... Attendance at religious services is purely optional, but the majority of the patients come gladly, the hymn-singing being a great attraction. We have always employed a hospital evangelist, for some two years, to preach to the out-patients, conduct the services, instruct all who care to listen, and follow up " inquirers " who have left the hospital. But this work has never been left to the evangelists alone. Doctors, assistants, dispensers, all do their part, and many is the man to-day an intelligent member of the Christian Church, who heard of Christ first in the wards of the hospital.
posted by shii at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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