A Coyote Reader

Overview


Wily, raunchy, and heroic. A trickster, lecher, and supreme survivor. Such is the magical Coyote, that mythic Native American figure whose various roles are recounted here in a wonderful selection of poetry and stories.

Anthropological linguist William Bright brings together diverse portraits of Coyote from American Indian texts and modern American writing. Because Native American myths have been recited and transmitted orally, Bright addresses the special problem of converting...

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Overview


Wily, raunchy, and heroic. A trickster, lecher, and supreme survivor. Such is the magical Coyote, that mythic Native American figure whose various roles are recounted here in a wonderful selection of poetry and stories.

Anthropological linguist William Bright brings together diverse portraits of Coyote from American Indian texts and modern American writing. Because Native American myths have been recited and transmitted orally, Bright addresses the special problem of converting them into written stories. His familiarity with the native languages gives his retranslations a liveliness that conveys their original vitality.

The collection also includes poetic translations and original works by important contemporary writers Leslie Silko, Gary Snyder, Wendy Rose, Peter Blue Cloud, and Simon Ortiz, along with the voice of an earlier American author—Mark Twain.

We see how the figure of Coyote serves both to entertain and to instruct and, by his similarities to the actual biological coyote, provides a link between culture and nature. At the same time, since he embodies distinctive characteristics of Homo sapiens, Coyote also reflects many aspects of human nature.

Bright places each tale in relation to the larger Native American context and shows Coyote's affinities with classic mythological figures and popular cultural images such as Bugs Bunny. Filled with humor and at times disturbing, Coyote's tales mirror the human condition across time and cultures.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anthropological linguist Bright, editor of The International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, attempts in this ambitious new volume to explore the meaning and importance of the trickster figure Old Man Coyote for western Native Americans; he also inquires into the origins of the Coyote's character as a blend of human and coyote. Bright assembles an interesting collection of traditional Coyote tales as well as a good cross-section of original stories and poems by prominent contemporary Native writers such as Simon Ortiz, Wendy Rose and Peter Blue Cloud. Coyote is revealed in all his complexity as prodigious traveler, brigand, sexual predator and demiurge shaper of the world. Unfortunately, in the end, Bright fails to answer the central questions of his inquiry and makes some dubious choices in his selections as well. He muddies the picture by including several tales from non-Native authors in order to consider Coyote's continuing power in the dominant culture. Equally questionable is his decision to ``adapt'' the stories recorded by Native storytellers into poetry in keeping with his belief in ``ethnopoetic'' translation methods. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Anthropological linguist Bright has compiled an excellent introduction to the complex Native American Coyote figure, simultaneously representative of Homo sapiens , Canis latrans , and the mythical First People. Bright traces the appearance of Coyote throughout North American history as a two-legged, four-legged, and shape-shifting creature. Works by contemporary poets such as Gary Snyder, Wendy Rose, and Peter Blue Cloud are presented alongside Bright's own fresh translations of traditional Coyote tales, and the book as a whole is held together by thoughtful analysis and criticism. If you can have only one Coyote book, get this one. If you're well acquainted with the Old Man, as the Coyote is commonly called, and you have shelves of books on him, get this one anyway for its comprehensiveness and conciseness. It will stand with Paul Radin's The Trickster (Shocken, 1972. rev. ed.) as a seminal work in the field, and it's also just plain fun to read.-- Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati Technical Coll.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520080621
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 202
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author


William Bright, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, is now Professor Adjoint in Linguistics at the University of Colorado. He recently edited the four-volume Oxford International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (1991).
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