Reading the Fire: The Traditional Indian Literatures of America
by : Jarold Ramsey
Reading the Fire engages America’s “first literatures,” traditional Native American tales and legends, as literary art and part of our collective imaginative heritage. This revised edition of a book first published to critical acclaim in 1983 includes four new essays.
Drawing on ethnographic data and regional folklore, Jarold Ramsey moves from origin and trickster narratives and Indian ceremonial texts, into interpretations of stories from the Nez Perce, Clackamas Chinook, Coos, Wasco, and Tillamook repertories, concluding with a set of essays on the neglected subject of Native literary responses to contact with Euroamericans. In his finely worked, erudite analyses, he mediates between an author-centered, print-based narrative tradition and one that is oral, anonymous, and tribal, adducing parallels between Native texts and works by Shakespeare, Yeats, Beckett, and Faulkner.