Publisher description for Reading the fire : the traditional Indian literatures of America / Jarold Ramsey.


Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog


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Reading the Fire engages America's "first literatures," traditional Native American tales and legends, as literary art and part of our collective imaginative heritage. This revised edition of a book first published to critical acclaim in 1983 includes four new essays.

Drawing on ethnographic data and regional folklore, Jarold Ramsey moves from origin and trickster narratives and Indian ceremonial texts, into interpretations of stories from the Nez Perce, Clackamas Chinook, Coos, Wasco, and Tillamook repertories, concluding with a set of essays on the neglected subject of Native literary responses to contact with Euroamericans. In his finely worked, erudite analyses, he mediates between an author-centered, print-based narrative tradition and one that is oral, anonymous, and tribal, adducing parallels between Native texts and works by Shakespeare, Yeats, Beckett, and Faulkner.

"A gathering of brilliant essays by the most literarily sensitive of commentators on Native American myths and tales."--Karl Kroeber, Traditional Literatures of the American Indian

"Jarold Ramsey has emerged as one of the most skilled and articulate commentators on American Indian literature active today."--J. Barre Toelken, Western Folklore

"A balanced, steady intelligence informs these essays. . . . It is a book that should be read by anyone who teaches American literature or specializes in American literary studies."--Larry Evers, Western Humanities Review

"American scholarship needs more of what Ramsey has done here: his work is a careful, detailed, but also sympathetic and profound study of the myths he has examined."--Dell Skeels, Pacific Northwest Quarterly


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Folk literature, Indian -- West (U.S.) -- History and criticism.
Indian literature -- West (U.S.) -- History and criticism.