Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice

Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice

by Dennis Tedlock
     
 

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Here is one of the most important surviving works of pre-Columbian civilization, Rabinal Achi, a Mayan drama set a century before the arrival of the Spanish, produced by the translator of the best selling Popol Vuh.
The first direct translation into English from Quiché Maya, based on the original text, Rabinal Achi is the story of city-states, war, and

Overview

Here is one of the most important surviving works of pre-Columbian civilization, Rabinal Achi, a Mayan drama set a century before the arrival of the Spanish, produced by the translator of the best selling Popol Vuh.
The first direct translation into English from Quiché Maya, based on the original text, Rabinal Achi is the story of city-states, war, and nobility, of diplomacy, mysticism, and psychic journeys. Cawek of the Forest People has been captured by Man of Rabinal, who serves a ruler named Lord Five Thunder. Cawek is a renegade, a warrior who has inflicted much suffering on Rabinal. Yet he is also the son of the lord of the allied city of Quiché—a noble who once fought alongside Man of Rabinal. The drama presents the confrontation between the two during the trial of Cawek, who defies his captors and proudly accepts death by beheading. Dennis Tedlock's translation is clear and vivid; more than that, it is rooted in an understanding of how the play is actually performed. Despite being banned for centuries by Spanish authorities, it survived in actual practice, and is still performed in the town of Rabinal today. Tedlock's photographs and diagrams accompany the text, capturing nuances not apparent in the dialogue alone. He also provides an introduction and commentary that explain the historical events compressed into the play, the Spanish influence on the Mayan dramatic tradition, and the cultural and religious world preserved in this remarkable play.
Rabinal Achi ranks as a classic of Mayan literature—and a rare window on a world that had yet to be invaded by Europeans. Dennis Tedlock brings this drama to life in all its richness.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I am struck, as always with Tedlock's work, by the extraordinary nature of what he's done. This isn't a mere translation but an entirely new way of presenting an ancient text. And the text itself opens the theater and the literature of the Americas as never before."—Jerome Rothenberg, Poet

"Dennis Tedlock brings both the authority of a scholar and the perception of a poet to this primal text of human imagination and conflict. In Professor Tedlock's exceptionally sensitive translation, together with his extensive notes and commentary, Rabinal Achi, a surviving drama of Mayan culture prior to the advent of the Europeans, is given a timeless witness and actuality."—Robert Creeley, Poet

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195139747
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/28/2003
Pages:
382
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
1430L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Dennis Tedlock is Distinguished Professor of English and Anthropology at the State University of New York, Buffalo, where he is also co-director of the Center for the Americas. A linguist, literary scholar, and poet, he won the PEN Translation Prize for Popol Vuh, as well as the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing.

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