978-0-679-74358-3 / 9780679743583

Coming To Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America





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About the book:

The vitality of the spoken word is essential to Native American cultures. Because of their dependence on oral performance, the stories, songs, legends, and ceremonies of a Native people often died with the last speaker of the language. Of the two hundred or so native languages in North America today, perhaps forty-five are spoken by over a thousand people, in contrast to pre-Columbian times, when there were as many as five hundred distinct tongues spoken by millions. But now, with the revival and heightened awareness of this vital tradition, more of the surviving literatures are being studied and translated into English so that they can be enjoyed and appreciated anew. Brian Swann, professor of English at the Cooper Union in New York City, has collected many of the new translations in Coming to Light, and in his introduction provides an overview, detailing changing attitudes toward the cultures of Native Americans, and the state of those cultures today. Coming to Light is a showcase of stories, songs, oratory, and prayer of the indigenous peoples of the continent. Unlike in previous anthologies of Native American literature, each of the translations is placed, through the use of individual introductions by respected scholars, in its appropriate cultural and linguistic context.

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