It is, of course, much too late in the day to call back the myth of the myth of the noble savage. Curiously, attacking the myth of the noble savage seems to be a sport that every generation of historians engage in. Yet, the sport is curiously foreshortened, on the principle of the White magic: As without, so NOT within. The White magic is so powerful that the historians who operate within this principle seemingly are unaware of it – unaware that they are taking as a norm a certain view of European “civilization” which, in actuality, was a rare thing in 16th and 17th century Europe. In fact, it might not be a thing at all. Some progress here has been made. As Terry Ellingson has pointed out, the term noble did not originally mean “morally elevated” when applied to the Indians. The first appearance of the phrase “noble savage” in English occurs early in the 17th century, in a translation of Marc Lescarbot’s account of French Canada. Why did Lescarbot call the Indians he met noble?
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