A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World

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U of Nebraska Press, 1999 - Social Science - 527 pages
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The Haida world is a misty archipelago a hundred stormy miles off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska. For more than a thousand years before the Europeans came, a great culture flourished on these islands. In 1900 and 1901 the linguist and ethnographer John Swanton took dictation from the last traditional Haida-speaking storytellers,°poets, and historians. Robert Bringhurst worked for many years with these manuscripts, and here he brings them to life in the English language. A Story as Sharp as a Knife brings a lifetime of passion and a broad array of skills?humanistic, scientific, and poetic?to focus on a rich and powerful tradition that the world has long ignored.
 

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A story as sharp as a knife: the classical Haida mythtellers and their world

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A distinguished Canadian poet and critic, Bringhurst here unveils a literary portrait of the keenly artistic culture native to the islands of Haida Gwaii. Located off the west coast of British ... Read full review

Contents

Reading What Cannot Be Written
13
Goose Food
27
Qaysun 1901
30
Diego Velazquez Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus
46
Spoken Music
50
Bears eye from the housepole
64
The One They Hand Along
65
Hlghagilda Skidegate summer 1881
72
The Iridescent Silence of the Trickster
263
Ttanuu September 1897
273
The Last People in the World
277
A Knife That Could Open Its Mouth
295
The Historian of Ttanuu
315
The TtanuuHlghagilda war zone
322
Chase Whats Gone
332
A Blue Hole in the Heart
339

Wealth Has Big Eyes
100
July 1878 104106
104
Oral Tradition and the Individual Talent
111
The Anthropologist and the Dogfish
135
Daxhiigang The Face ofTangghivan Llaana
138
Whos Related to Whom?
155
The Epic Dream
173
The Shaping of the Canon
201
The Flyting of Skaay and Xhyuu
213
You Are That Too
221
Sleek Blue Beings
236
The Prosody of Meaning
361
Shellheap of the Gods
372
How the Town Mothers Wife Became the Widow
393
Haida Spelling and Pronunciation
415
Spelling of Other Native American
423
The Structure of Skaays Raven Travelling
430
A Short Pronouncing Glossary
436
Select Bibliography
493
Index
517
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About the author (1999)

Robert Bringhurst is one of Canada?s most respected poets and cultural historians. He is the author of The Black Canoe: Bill Reid and the Spirit of Haida°Gwaii and the coauthor of The Raven Steals the Light.

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