Understanding Gerald Vizenor

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University of South Carolina Press, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 193 pages
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Winner of the 1988 American Book Award for his novel Griever: An American Monkey King in China, Gerald Vizenor is a radical, even revolutionary, voice among of contemporary Native American writers. Deborah L. Madsen offers a comprehensive overview of Vizenoras work in all literary genres, including poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction, as she explores the themes, images, and stylistic devices that define Vizenoras challenging and significant body of work.

In his critique of corporate greed and environmental devastation, of political incompetence and self-interest, and of the modern culture of simulation, celebrity and hype, Vizenor consistently proves himself to be unafraid to prod and provoke his audience. He can also be a difficult writer for new readers, due to his use of an idiosyncratic vocabulary and the ironic, oppositional, or deconstructive stance he adopts in texts that resist easy comprehension. Madsen offers here points of entrance for scholars, students, and general readers into the complex vocabulary and vision of Vizenoras work.

Madsen begins by addressing the key contexts within which Vizenoras work can be interpreted: his biography, the Anishinaabe tribal context of his thought, and the contemporary postmodern intellectual environment within which he writes. Madsen also explores her subjectas neologisms, the complex lexicon he invents to convey his view of Native America. From there, she highlights Vizenoras achievements in each of the major literary genres in which he writesa journalism, tribal history, cultural criticism, poetry, drama, and fictionafocusing on representative texts in each instance to provide detailed readings of Vizenoras distinctive style and language.

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Chapter 2
Gerald Vizenor as Poet
Gerald Vizenor as Dramatist

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About the author (2009)

Deborah L. Madsen is a professor of American literature and culture at the University of Geneva.

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