Nine Visits to the Mythworld: Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

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Douglas & McIntyre, 2000 - Haida Indians - 222 pages
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In the Fall of 1900, a young American anthropologist named John Swanton arrived in the Haida country, on the Northwest Coast of North America, intending to learn everything he could about Haida mythology. He spent the next ten months phonetically transcribing several thousand pages of myths, stories, histories and songs in the Haida language. Swanton met a number of fine mythtellers during his year in the Haida country. Each had his own style and his own repertoire. Two of them -- a blind man in his fifties by the name of Ghandl, and a crippled septuagenarian named Skaay -- were artists of extraordinary stature, revered in their own communities and admired ever since by the few specialists aware of their great legacy.

Nine Visits to the Mythworld includes all the finest works of one of these master mythtellers. In November 1900, when Ghandl dictated these nine stories, the Haida world lay in ruins. Wave upon wave of smallpox and other diseases, rapacious commercial exploitation by fur traders, whalers and miners, and relentless missionization by the church had taken a huge toll on Haida culture. Yet in the blind poetís mind, the great tradition lived, and in his voice it comes alive. Robert Bringhurstís eloquent and vivid translations of these works are supplemented by explanatory notes that supply the needed background information, and by photographs of masterworks of Haida visual art, in which the stories Ghandl tells are given potent visual form.

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Review: Nine Visits to the Mythworld: Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

User Review  - Michael Muller - Goodreads

In-depth presentation of classical Haida literature by selected authors, excellently translated according to Bringhurst's insights and sensitivities. Read full review

Review: Nine Visits to the Mythworld: Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

User Review  - Elizabeth - Goodreads

I agree with Bringhurst: students of literature have neglected the epic tradition that has thrived on our continent. Reading these Haida poems is illuminating, enriching, exciting. Read full review

About the author (2000)

Robert Bringhurst was born October 16, 1946, in the ghetto of South Central Los Angeles and raised in the mountain and desert country of Alberta, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia. He spent ten years as an undergraduate, studying physics, architecture and linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, philosophy and oriental languages at the University of Utah, and comparative literature at Indiana University, which gave him a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. He had published two books of poems before entering the writing program at the University of British Columbia, which awarded him an MFA in 1975. From 1977 to 1980 he taught writing and English literature at UBC, and after that, made his living as a typographer. He has also been poet-in-residence and writer-in-residence at several universities in North America and Europe. His book, The Elements of Typographic Style is considered a standard text in its field, and Black Canoe is one of the classics in the field of Native American art history. He received the Macmillan Prize for Poetry in 1975.

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