Being in Being: The Collected Works of Skaay of the Qquuna Qiighawaay

Overview

Skaay of the Qquuna Qiighawaay may have been one of the greatest Native storytellers of all time. Born in the Haida village of Qquuna about 1827 and crippled by an injury in middle age, he devoted himself to the art of telling stories. As the Haidas' older way of life changed dramatically under the onslaught of smallpox epidemics and contact with the outside world, Skaay became the undisputed master storyteller among them. When the young American linguist John Swanton arrived in the fall of 1900 to record Haida ...

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Overview

Skaay of the Qquuna Qiighawaay may have been one of the greatest Native storytellers of all time. Born in the Haida village of Qquuna about 1827 and crippled by an injury in middle age, he devoted himself to the art of telling stories. As the Haidas' older way of life changed dramatically under the onslaught of smallpox epidemics and contact with the outside world, Skaay became the undisputed master storyteller among them. When the young American linguist John Swanton arrived in the fall of 1900 to record Haida myths, poems, and oral histories, Skaay dictated to him some of his best stories.

Included in this volume are three of Skaay's masterpieces, recorded originally by John Swanton and edited and translated by Robert Bringhurst: "The Qquuna Cycle" is the longest extant work of Haida poetry and one of the great monuments of Native American literature; "Raven Travelling" is the most complex trickster story ever recorded on the Northwest Coast; and "The Qquuna Qiighawaay" is the brief and poignant story of Skaay's maternal lineage.

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Editorial Reviews

The Times

"Bringhurst's achievement is gigantic, as well as heroic. It's one of those works that rearranges the inside of your head—a profound meditation on the nature of oral poetry and myth, and on the habits of thought and feeling that inform them. It restores to life two exceptional poets we ought to know."—Margaret Atwood, The Times (London)

— Margaret Atwood

The Times - Margaret Atwood
"Bringhurst's achievement is gigantic, as well as heroic. It's one of those works that rearranges the inside of your head—a profound meditation on the nature of oral poetry and myth, and on the habits of thought and feeling that inform them. It restores to life two exceptional poets we ought to know."—Margaret Atwood, The Times (London)
Library Journal
This third volume in a trilogy of Haida myth and story can be read independently, though the first (A Story as Sharp as a Knife) also contains historical and cultural information not included in the others. Like the second volume, Ghandl of Qayahl Llaanas, this volume contains story texts with background provided in endnotes only. Storyteller Skaay was born in the village of Qquuna in what is now British Columbia in 1827. Injured in middle age, he spent the rest of his life learning and telling the stories of his culture, even as that culture was being decimated by the diseases and missionary zeal of the Europeans. Here Bringhurst, a Canadian poet and cultural historian, offers three stories: "The Qquuna Cycle," the longest extant Haida poem; "Raven Travelling," a complex trickster story; and "The Qquuna Qiighawaay," a brief version of Skaay's maternal lineage. Along with the first two volumes, this is a necessary purchase for libraries with strong collections in Native American folklore. Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Bringhurst is the author of A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World (Nebraska 2000) and the translator of Nine Visits to the Mythworld: Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas (Nebraska 2000).

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