Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel

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University of Oklahoma Press, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 291 pages
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This first book-length critical analysis of the full range of novels written between 1854 and today by American Indian authors takes as its theme the search for self-discovery and cultural recovery. In his introduction, Louis Owens places the novels in context by considering their relationships to traditional American Indian oral literature as well as their differences from mainstream Euroamerican literature. In the following chapters he looks at the novels of John Rollin Ridge, Mourning Dove, John Joseph Mathews, D'Arcy McNickle, N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris, and Gerald Vizenor. These authors are mixedbloods who, in their writing, try to come to terms with the marginalization both of mixed-bloods and fullbloods and of their cultures in American society. Their novels are complex and sophisticated narratives of cultural survival - and survival guides for fullbloods and mixedbloods in modern America. Rejecting the stereotypes and cliches long attached to the word Indian, they appropriate and adapt the colonizers language, English, to describe the Indian experience. These novels embody the American Indian point of view; the non-Indian is required to assume the role of "other". In his analysis Owens draws on a broad range of literary theory: myth and folklore, structuralism, modernism, poststructuralism, and, particularly, postmodernism. At the same time he argues that although recent American Indian fiction incorporates a number of significant elements often identified with postmodern writing, it contradicts the primary impulse of postmodernism. That is, instead of celebrating fragmentation, ephemerality, and chaos, these authors insistupon a cultural center that is intact and recoverable, upon immutable values and ecological truths. Other Destinies provides a new critical approach to novels by American Indians. It also offers a comprehensive introduction to the novels, helping teachers bring this important fiction to the classroom.
 

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Other destinies: understanding the American Indian novel

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A Choctaw-Cherokee-Irish novelist and professor of literature, Owens provides an important insider's perspective on ten Native American novelists. Beginning with the Cherokee author John Rollin Ridge ... Read full review

Contents

John Rollin Ridges Masquerade
32
John Joseph Mathews
49
The Novels of N Scott Momaday
90
James Welchs Acts of Recovery
128
Leslie Silkos
167
Erdrich and Dorriss Mixedbloods and Multiple
192
Gerald Vizenors Trickster
225
Notes
255
References
275
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About the author (1994)

Louis Owens , who is of Choctaw-Cherokee-Irish descent, is Professor of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of several books, including Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel and the novels The Sharpest Sight and Bone Game , all published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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