Matthias, Pepys, Longfellow, Sissy Spacek, and Me: Arctic Cultural Dissemination across Time and Space

Ezra B. W. Zubrow


Imagine a corked bottle with a message in it floating south on currents of the Arctic Ocean. The bottle is picked up, the message read, the bottle re-corked and put back in the water. Similarly, there are fragments of a culture that float across time and space and are incorporated into a variety of societies. This is the narrative of a fragment of Lapp culture first recorded in the 1670s that drifted through a variety of European cultures and eventually became a well-known part of Anglo-American society; its origin is generally unknown. The story of “A Boy’s Will” shows how resilient some thoughts, words, and ideas are as they drift through time, space, and culture.

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