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One hundred years ago, William Drake Westervelt set into lyrical prose Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes. Reverend William Drake Westervelt was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1849. He graduated from Oberlin College and then Oberlin Theological Seminary in 1874. After settling in Hawai i, he married Caroline Dickinson Castle, a missionary descendant. Starting in 1908, he served in various positions with the Hawaiian Historical Society. An amateur folklorist, Westervelt translated the myths from original Hawaiian language sources. He was writing in part to introduce a Western audience to these myths and legends. As a result, Westervelt s stories were often sanitized from the originals, in order to avoid shocking the sensibilities of his early 20th century readers. Despite that, he preserved much of the character of the original stories and his retellings reflect his genuine respect for the oral literature of the ancient Hawaiians. By recording them at a time when these tales were commonly shared, he preserved them for future generations. His lyrical and colorful writing style makes them a joy to read.
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