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Voices from Four Directions: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America
     

Voices from Four Directions: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America

by Brian Swann (Editor)
 

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Storytelling and singing continue to be a vital part of community life for Native peoples today. Voices from Four Directions gathers stories and songs from thirty-one Native groups in North America—including the Iñupiaqs in the frigid North, the Lushootseeds along the forested coastline of the far West, the Catawbas in the humid South, and

Overview

Storytelling and singing continue to be a vital part of community life for Native peoples today. Voices from Four Directions gathers stories and songs from thirty-one Native groups in North America—including the Iñupiaqs in the frigid North, the Lushootseeds along the forested coastline of the far West, the Catawbas in the humid South, and the Maliseets of the rugged woods of the East. Vivid stories of cosmological origins and transformation, historical events remembered and retold, as well as legendary fables can be found in these pages. Well-known Trickster figures like Raven, Rabbit, and Coyote figure prominently in several tales as do heroes of local fame such as Tom Laporte of the Maliseets. The stories and songs entertain, instruct, and recall rich legacies as well as obligations. Many are retellings and reinventions of classic narratives, while others are more recent creations.

Award-winning poet and critic Brian Swann has gathered some of the richest and most diverse literatures of Native North America and provides an introduction to the volume. In addition, each story is introduced and newly translated.

Editorial Reviews

American Literature
“Swann emphasizes the importance of reproducing the original texts’ poetry and beauty and of crating a dialogic interplay between the texts’ voices.”—American Literature
Choice
“An excellent introduction to the current state of the translation of Native oral literature and the ethical considerations surrounding translation. The narratives are illuminating and the collection solidly advances understanding of a complex and energetic field.”—Choice
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education

“This volume is a comprehensive collection that belongs in every tribal college library and would be an excellent text for Native Literature classes.”—Holly Ristau, Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education

— Holly Ristau

Ethnohistory

“With Voices from Four Directions Swann has added a fine collection to his already impressive list of edited works. . . . . His editorial selections have created an interesting and thought-provoking text for both the scholar and the nonspecialist.”—Caskey Russell, Ethnohistory

— Caskey Russell

American Indian Culture & Research Journal
“[Voices from Four Directions] may thus serve a valuable educational function by introducing the artistry of Native American linguistic traditions to a broader audience that can be moved to abandon often covert ideologies of contempt for ‘small,’ ‘tribal’ languages because of their presumed inferiority and mobilized to lend support to language revitalization efforts on behalf of these and other threatened languages.”—American Indian Culture & Research Journal
Montana, The Magazine of Western History - Maria Glowacka
“It is refreshing to find a volume that is devoted to the art of translation, one that carefully and respectfully presents translated texts that are semantically and stylistically accessible to a western audience. . . . Voices from Four Directions is a valuable contribution to the field and enriches our knowledge of the literary merit of Native American verbal arts. ”—Maria Glowacka, Montana, The Magazine of Western History
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education - Holly Ristau
“This volume is a comprehensive collection that belongs in every tribal college library and would be an excellent text for Native Literature classes.”—Holly Ristau, Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education
Ethnohistory - Caskey Russell
“With Voices from Four Directions Swann has added a fine collection to his already impressive list of edited works. . . . . His editorial selections have created an interesting and thought-provoking text for both the scholar and the nonspecialist.”—Caskey Russell, Ethnohistory
KLIATT
Two valuable books in one, this anthology of the stories of native North Americans ranges from Alaska to Labrador and from the Great Lakes to New Mexico, explaining and presenting the tales and poetry of over 30 native groups. Arranged by region, each group of tales is preceded by a careful explanation of its sources, its original language, and of the ethnologists' efforts to transcribe and/or translate it. The person who reads only the introductions to each section will gain knowledge of how the tales were told, who told them to the English-speaking transcribers, and a brief history of the tribe, the original tribal language, and the researchers who tried to save the literary heritage of the groups. Each introduction has its own notes and bibliography. The tales themselves differ widely in length, topic, and style. Since many were used as teaching tools in non-literate societies, they relate tribal history, from creation stories to tales that tell of the first encounters with white men. Others have morals, teaching life values in the guise of entertainment. In most of the tales, humans and animals interchange forms easily, transformations that should be quickly accepted by young American fans of Spider-Man. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 615p. index. notes. bibliog., Ages 12 to adult.
—Patricia Moore
Library Journal
A rich compilation of stories translated from the traditional literature of a variety of diverse cultures found throughout North America, this volume is an extension of the author's Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America, which presents stories from a broader geographical focus. As the title implies, the new book is arranged by region and includes stories from Native American cultures in the North, West, South, and East. It begins with an informative introduction by the editor, and each piece is prefaced with an extensive essay by the individual translator providing an explanation of its origin and traditional significance, information about local storytellers and collectors, details of the translation techniques, notes on its orthography and pronunciation, as well as references and suggestions for further reading. The book concludes with a list of contributors and an index (not seen). Trickster tales, sagas, creation myths, fables, animal stories, songs, and poetry are included in this educational and enlightening book. Recommended for academic and large public libraries with collections in Native American literature. Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803293106
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
05/28/2004
Series:
Native Literatures of the Americas Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
617
Product dimensions:
6.96(w) x 10.02(h) x 1.31(d)

Meet the Author

Brian Swann is on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His many works include Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America.

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