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the Complete Review
the complete review - history/literature

Mr. Bligh's Bad Language

Greg Dening

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To purchase Mr. Bligh's Bad Language

Title: Mr. Bligh's Bad Language
Author: Greg Dening
Genre: History
Written: 1992
Length: 396 pages
Availability: Mr. Bligh's Bad Language - US
Mr. Bligh's Bad Language - UK
Mr. Bligh's Bad Language - Canada
  • Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty

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Our Assessment:

A+ : immensely entertaining, exceptionally well done.

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
American Ethnologist . 11/1994 Peter Linebaugh
New Statesman & Society . 6/11/1992 Dea Birkett
TLS . 29/1/1993 G.B.Milner

  • "(...) William Bligh, whose historical fascination has already been definitively analysed in Greg Dening's eloquent and complex study, Mr Bligh's Bad Language" - Vanessa Smith, Times Literary Supplement (1/10/1999)

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       In this marvelous study of the actual mutiny on the Bounty, Greg Dening examines both history and its representation in film, literature, and popular culture. One of the more famous stories of the high seas, the subject of numerous films and many books, the mutiny has left a significant mark.
       Dening chooses to view (and represent) the whole episode as theatre. The book is presented (in its framework, if not actual form) as a play. There are three acts to it, complete with prologue, two entr'actes and an epilogue. Each act is introduced, and then offers two scenes -- a Narrative one, describing the actual events, and a Reflection on those events.
       Combining the study of history with more modern theories of literature, theatre, and popular culture Dening is able to give a comprehensive account and explanation of why the events on the Bounty became what they did. One argument made in the book is that the notorious Captain Bligh was, in fact, not the sadistic, mean man he is made out to be, and that his failure lies elsewhere. Dening convincingly presents the events as theatre, and he basically argues that Bligh's failure was in not knowing how to play his role.
       Dening follows the transformation of the Bounty story from history to popular legend to the subject of books and films. He even finds a wealth of material in the repeated filming of the story, each version of which he discusses.
       The book is filled with fascinating detail. The mutiny story is well-told, and Dening's broad interpretation around it is superb. A fascinating, marvelous read, we recommend this book highly.

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Mr. Bligh's Bad Language: Reviews: Bligh and the Bounty: Greg Dening: Other books by Greg Dening under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Greg Dening (1931-2008) was Professor of History at the University of Melbourne.

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