A seminal collection of Haida myths and legends; now in a gorgeous new package.
The linguist and ethnographer John Swanton took dictation from the last great Haida-speaking storytellers, poets and historians from the fall of 1900 through the summer of 1901. Together they created a great treasury of Haida oral literature in written form.
Having worked for many years with these century-old manuscripts, linguist and poet Robert Bringhurst brings both rigorous scholarship and a literary voice to the English translation of John Swanton's careful work. He sets the stories in a rich context that reaches out to dozens of native oral literatures and to myth-telling traditions around the globe.
Attractively redesigned, this collection of First Nations oral literature is an important cultural record for future generations of Haida, scholars and other interested readers. It won the Edward Sapir Prize, awarded by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, and it was chosen as the Literary Editor's Book of the Year by the Times of London.
Bringhurst brings these works to life in the English language and sets them in a context just as rich as the stories themselves one that reaches out to dozens of Native American oral literatures, and to mythtelling traditions around the world.
"The brilliant analysis of myth and culture will find its place alongside such popular investigations as Radin's The Trickster... A Story as Sharp as a Knife will make academics tremble with jealousy and students of myth-telling shiver with excitement."
"One of the most important books to grace Canadian literature in many years."
"Bringhurst's accomplishment is beyond praise... A Story as Sharp as a Knife merits a wide readership and a passionate response. It also deserves to win every literary award in sight."
"Bringhurst's achievement is gigantic, as well as heroic. It's one of those works that rearranges the inside of your head -- a profound meditation on the nature of oral poetry and myth, and on the habits of thought and feeling that inform them."
"Once in a while a book appears that changes the way we see things. This is such a book. Bringhurst reclaims an extraordinary body of literature and teaches us to hear its sinewy, haunting music. In the process, he rewrites North American literary history and lays a depth charge in the assumptions of cultural anthropology. Rigorous and enchanting, a Story as Sharp as a Knife is a superb adventure of the mind and imagination. I couldn't put it down."