Writer and the Shaman

Writer and the Shaman : Morphology of the American Indian

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Product details

  • Hardback | 312 pages
  • 160.02 x 238.76 x 35.56mm | 725.74g
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • Italian
  • 0151995605
  • 9780151995608

Review Text

Inspired by Leslie Fiedler (The Return of the Vanishing American, 1967), Zolla, an Italian Professor of American literature and intellectual qua intellectual, has set out to write what he calls "a history of the many images of the American Indian" - rather a "morphology" of what the Red Man has become when seen as an Other. But what one gets from this enormously erudite literary-anthropological exercise, (Zolla has read everybody from Hesiod to N. Scott Momaday and sets down all the analogies he can think of, whether relevant or not) is a sense of the author's own emotional attachments and dislikes. He believes that the Indians, and more especially their shamans (although these spiritual savants are not described or analyzed), are rhythmically and spiritually at one with their universe; "progress," either backward to the Garden or forward toward the Machine, is the enemy transforming Indians into noble savages, or westernized neophytes. At first one wonders if this book can be salvaged as a literary digest of material in which the Indian has figured even briefly, or as a catalogue of the growing stock of native writing. But Zolla is too entangled in his own abstruseness and ideational constructions and this thicket is simply impenetrable. (Kirkus Reviews)
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