Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition

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University of Oklahoma Press, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 260 pages
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Gerald Vizenor, the most prolific Native American writer of this century, has produced more than twenty-five books in genres as varied as fiction, journalism, haiku, and literary theory. The first book-length study devoted to this important author, Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition lays the groundwork essential for understanding his complex work.

Kimberly M. Blaeser begins with an examination of Vizenor’s concept of Native American oral culture and his unique incorporation of oral tradition in the written word. She then explicates Vizenor’s method of linking the traditional oral aesthetic with reader-response theories and details Vizenor’s efforts to produce a form of writing that resists static meaning, involves the writer in the creation of the literary moment, and invites political action. She also explores the place of Vizenor’s work within the larger contexts of contemporary tribal literature, Native American scholarship, and critical theory.

Individual chapters examine Vizenor’s renditions of the Native American trickster figure in his fiction; analyze his employment of a network of critical, social, and literary subtexts within the larger text; and explain the sometimes difficult "Vizenorese," a complex of terms that characterize people and ideas. Blaeser offers explanations of the origins, meanings, and dialogic purposes of a variety of terms, such as manifest manners, dead voices, word cinemas, terminal creeds, and socioacupuncture.

Blaeser’s is the first study to reveal the full importance of haiku in Vizenor’s work. His poetry, which draws equally from Zen aesthetics and Ojibway dream songs, contains concise, economical descriptions, made up equally of absence and presence-a style characterictic of Vizenor’s writing in other genres as well.

Based upon scholarship, close reading, and interviews with Vizenor himself, and written by a Native scholar of Vizenor’s own tribe, this book explicates Vizenor’s ideas, methods, and forms, making even his most sophisticated arguments accessible to the general reader.

 

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Gerald Vizenor: writing in oral tradition

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Vizenor, arguably the most prolific contemporary Native American author, has written more than two dozen books, from fiction and haiku poetry to literary theory. A mixed-blood whose father was ... Read full review

Contents

Intersections with the Oral Tradition
15
Surviving the Word Wars
38
Multiple Traditions in Haiku
108
Trickster Signatures
136
Notes
205
Works Cited
235
Index
247
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About the author (1996)

Kimberly M. Blaeser , an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of Trailing You , a prize-winning collection of poetry.

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