NOEL  BARRY

COMMENTS:  NOEL BARRY AND THE SHORT NOTE ON HIS WORK IN THE NEW TRANSLATION OF PARKINSON'S THIRTY YEARS IN THE SOUTH SEAS

PUBLISHED BY CRAWFORD HOUSE PUBLISHING, 1999.

Noel Barry was an Englishman.  He was a graduate of Cambridge University.  Studied also in France and Germany.  An officer in WWI in the British army.  In 1927 he went to Rabaul to work as translator of German documents.

He was translator/intelligence officer in WWII, working among other places in the Middle East.  One of very few European men of Rabaul to survive WWII he returned there after the war.  Member of the Legislative Council, a street was named after him in Rabaul.  He died in Rabaul 1960.  

Noel Barry was well loved and respected by all races of the Rabaul community both pre and post WWII.  He was a man of substance, integrity and scholarship who had influence on the intellectual/cultural environment.

This information and more of his background and the milieu in which he lived and worked, can be found in my book Masked Eden, A History of the Australians in New Guinea, ISBN 0 646 35289 X.

Masked Eden was published in Australia, June 1998.  By September 1998, the book was selling to public libraries, was in the National Library, Canberra, was known about by amongst other interested people, the PMB, Hank Nelson ANU, the Pacific Book House.

As regards the various questions and statements that are made in 'The second edition and the Barry translation', I make the following points:

1.  As is obvious from the above information, Barry made the translation (a) because he was a translator of German documents, and (b) because he was a Cambridge scholar.

2.  Surely caution should be shown nowadays regarding Margaret Mead.  How can one assume she, with her short time in Rabaul, or anyone else, was privy to much actual information regarding Barry's future plans? It is most unlikely Barry did not know about the original edition of Parkinson's book.  He probably read it before he ever went to New Guinea, in Germany.  As an official translator, he would have had access to ALL the German records etc which would have made mention of the original edition.

He was also known to have for use a battered but complete copy which probably belonged to Effie Kaumann.  This was almost certainly a 1907 copy.

3.  Barry and Phoebe Parkinson had hoped to get the book published.  As to why he gave it to Phoebe Parkinson.  Noel Barry would hardly start carrying this translation around with him when he went to war! Who more appropriate for Barry to give his translation to than Phoebe Parkinson?
Phoebe gave the typescript to the Archbold expedition just before the Japanese invasion.  This should show yet again what a remarkable woman she was.  In a fast changing desperate world, she was able to choose one man who would care for the translation she and Barry had worked on for so long.

Phoebe Parkinson would have been known to Noel Barry for many years and would have discussed the book with him.  She may even have been hoping to improve on the original in some respects.  She after all had worked closely with her husband, had catalogued much of his material, and was the interpreter between him and the subjects he wrote about.  A man of Barry's sensitivity would have listened to Phoebe.  (There was therefore no need to give it to her 'to check and correct the translation' in 1940.)

Much of this information could have been gathered from Masked Eden.

As regards the various statements made regarding Barry's translation:

There is no recognition given to the possibility that Barry actually chose the 1926 edition to translate for a variety of reasons.  One of them being that he was working in a pioneer environment.  It also was possible that Barry working in a period so close to that of Parkinson, and with Phoebe's help was aware of some of the irrelevancies and mistakes in the original.  This may have outweighed the disadvantages of the second edition.  

To make such a point about the difference between 1873 and 1878 is surely quite unnecessary.  Anyone who has worked on old typewriters knows very well that 3 and 8 could easily be mistaken.  It needs only a dirty, smudged print character.  Barry did not have the advantage of modern word processors or computers! It is also unnecessary to mention another probable typing error regarding numbers as if it were Barry's stupidity.  Especially when the same essay makes it plain that there is uncertainty regarding what copy is what and how many times it had been retyped!

I wonder if this would have been given such prominence if Barry's background had been known.  I wonder too what John Dennison would have done if he had known of Barry's qualifications.  Obviously Dennison has read Barry's translation.  How much use did he in fact make of it? Noel Barry had no other English translation to work with.

I would hazard a guess that no matter how good the new translation of Parkinson is, that of Noel Barry even if it is not from the complete copy, will prove in the long run closer to the spirit and truth of the times, the people involved and the facts.

It is also unfortunate that without knowledge of Barry's education, the possibility that he was planning more than a mere translation is not even apparently imagined.  It is just assumed he was exerting 'little editorial control of his translation'.  Could no-one consider he was intending to write more, a long introduction etc, build on what Parkinson had done? He had completed only the core of his work.  Barry's papers, with the exception of the translation he gave Phoebe Parkinson, were lost, as were, of course, most other written records of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.  Could no mention have been made of this fact?

There is no mention in the essay of the great sadness Barry must have felt when after the war he returned to Rabaul to find Phoebe dead, most of his friends murdered, and much of his life's work destroyed.  To state in the New Title Information that 'remarkable….  never been fully translated into English and published' shows a lack of any knowledge of the tragedy that happened in Rabaul in 1942.  It belittles Noel Barry and all he, and others, were trying to achieve.

Did anyone involved in this translation bother to try and find out about Noel Barry? Was it just assumed, as is invariably the case in academic work over the last 20 or so years that the European men of Rabaul were uneducated ruffians, and the European women pathetic creatures who behaved at times like animals?

Surely as Barry's translation was, if nothing else, a guide to the present translation/book and use has been made of his intellectual property, some action could and should have been made to find anyone concerned/connected with Noel Barry.  One of the chief characteristics of the European pioneers of Rabaul was their generosity of spirit.  Today this characteristic is not apparent in most academic circles concerned with research into the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and such a characteristic is denied those they research.

It should have been easy for anyone to discover my connection with Noel Barry.  Although Masked Eden was published only last year, I have been in contact with any number of academics/publishers since the late 1970s and warning these people that it was irresponsible folly to ignore me and my work.  The translation of the Parkinson book is just one more in the long line of those with inaccurate/misleading information, that any reading of my work could have rectified in a scholar of integrity.

Apart from everything else, my booklet New Guinea Waits, ISBN 0 950287652, was published in 1993.  It was available in several of the main Australian libraries.  It was eventually, December 1995, given some prominence in 'Una Voce' the magazine of the ROAPNG.  Barry's connection with my family and Parkinson was mentioned in this.  It was, should still be, available in the Mitchell Library, among others.  This booklet also gives some background information regarding Masked Eden.

Publishing any book is an achievement and from the information I have regarding this one, it has taken much time and effort.  I congratulate everyone involved.  However, how much more could have been achieved if credit had been given to others such as Noel Barry.  No one could gather at all the man of substance Barry was from the rather condescending few words in Specht's essay.

I - again - received no recognition.  Masked Eden, which has received much praise from the few still alive who really know about its subject matter, and is of such obvious importance to any background understanding of the era Noel Barry worked in, has been ignored.  I hope that this will be rectified in any future publication, and some Note that reflects more closely the real Noel Barry be written.  Is it really too much to hope for that some of those involved in modern day research into colonial Papua New Guinea will bother to read my work, and make sure copies remain or are placed in key libraries for future scholars?

Anne McCosker  1999. 


Anne in  MASKED EDEN  was the first to publish any of 
Thirty Years in the South Seas 
in English.
The following is an extract from Noel Barry's translation

MASKED EDEN  pages 99 to 100

 

'A little north of Cape Palliser there is a small bay, protected by a coral reef and two little islands, forming a good harbour, but only for small ships.  The natives name the place Mutlar and come there occasionally to catch turtles…

A little further north there is the small, concealed harbour of Rugenhafen (the native Put Put), which I discovered in 1884.  The entrance is narrow and only one ship can enter at a time; the branches of the huge forest trees which stretch out over both sides of the passage brush the ship's sides in paces.  Thirteen metres is the minimum depth in the passage and once in the basin there is room for a great number of ships to anchor at a depth of 11 or 12 metres: and as Rugenhafen and Mutlar are the only safe harbours on the east coast of the Gazelle Peninsula, they are sure to become of considerable importance in the course of time when the hinterland is opened up for plantations.  About four kilometers north of Rugenhafen, where a deep wide valley cuts into the land for a great distanced one of the biggest rivers in the Peninsula flows into the sea, the Warangoi.

In the dry season not a great quantity of water flows down it; but in the rainy season it changes into a roaring mountain torrent and can only be navigated with great difficulty.

Some years ago I went up it in company of Bishop Coupp, and a surveyor, from the mouth to a point just south of Vunakokor .It took us four days to do this stretch, and that not without very strenuous efforts; in places the canoe had to be carried over mudflats, or fallen trees that barred the way from bank to bank and over which the dammed up water rushed like a roaring cataract; now and again we would come across open stretches with deep water in which paddles could be used, but even here progress was slow on account of the strength of the current.

As the scenery was one of extreme grandeur and changed cm each of the many turns, the four days we took to rake our way up sleeps seemed soon to pass.  .But the return journey passed quicker still for the stretch which had taken us four days of the most strenuous work to negotiated we covered in four hours downstream.

Our three boats raced down the river in the wildest haste, driven only by the stream which had swollen considerably from the torrent rains which had overtaken us at our last camp.  The paddlers sat idle, the whole of the work falling on the steersman who required a sharp eye and a strong arm to dodge the boulders and tree stumps and skirt the projecting cliffs.  We were all very relieved to hear the booming of the surf which told us that the mouth of the Warangoi was near and our wild journey at an ended'

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