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Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women

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"Impressive....Haunting....Enchanting...Every story in the book, which covers nearly a century of tradition, is interesting, written with intelligent passion." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Native American scholar, literary critic, poet, and novelist Paula Gunn Allen, who is herself a Laguna Pueblo-Sioux Indian, became increasingly aware in her academic career that the writ "Impressive....Haunting....Enchanting...Every story in the book, which covers nearly a century of tradition, is interesting, written with intelligent passion." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Native American scholar, literary critic, poet, and novelist Paula Gunn Allen, who is herself a Laguna Pueblo-Sioux Indian, became increasingly aware in her academic career that the writings of Native Americans, especially women, have been marginalized by the Western literary canon. Allen set out to understand why this was so and, more importantly, to remedy the situation. The result is this powerful collection of traditional tales, biographical writings, and contemporary short stories, many by the most accomplished Native American women writing today, including: Louise Erdrich, Mary TallMountain, Linda Hogan, and many others.


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"Impressive....Haunting....Enchanting...Every story in the book, which covers nearly a century of tradition, is interesting, written with intelligent passion." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Native American scholar, literary critic, poet, and novelist Paula Gunn Allen, who is herself a Laguna Pueblo-Sioux Indian, became increasingly aware in her academic career that the writ "Impressive....Haunting....Enchanting...Every story in the book, which covers nearly a century of tradition, is interesting, written with intelligent passion." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Native American scholar, literary critic, poet, and novelist Paula Gunn Allen, who is herself a Laguna Pueblo-Sioux Indian, became increasingly aware in her academic career that the writings of Native Americans, especially women, have been marginalized by the Western literary canon. Allen set out to understand why this was so and, more importantly, to remedy the situation. The result is this powerful collection of traditional tales, biographical writings, and contemporary short stories, many by the most accomplished Native American women writing today, including: Louise Erdrich, Mary TallMountain, Linda Hogan, and many others.

30 review for Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Agha-Jaffar

    Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women edited with an introduction by Paula Gunn Allen, is a must read for those wishing to gain an understanding of the culture and context within which Native American women write. This slim volume is divided into three sections: The Warriors, The Casualties, The Resistance. Gunn Allen introduces each section by situating it within its cultural context. Each section includes traditional writings that ha Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women edited with an introduction by Paula Gunn Allen, is a must read for those wishing to gain an understanding of the culture and context within which Native American women write. This slim volume is divided into three sections: The Warriors, The Casualties, The Resistance. Gunn Allen introduces each section by situating it within its cultural context. Each section includes traditional writings that have been transmitted orally for many decades, as well as contemporary examples by well-known authors like Louise Erdrich, Anna Lee Walters, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Linda Hogan. Gunn Allen’s excellent introduction to the collection provides a brief historical overview of the oppression and broken promises experienced by Native Americans. She also situates the traditional tales, some of which are biographical, and she draws connections between these tales and their contemporary counterparts. Her introductions are enlightening in that she approaches each section by clarifying terms and context, revealing nuances and subtleties in Native American writing that may not be readily apparent to all readers. Some of the traditional tales may pose a challenge for readers steeped in the Western tradition of story-telling because they do not necessarily adhere to a linear, cause and effect pattern. They weave in and out, frequently circling back on themselves, revealing biographical details about Native lives and perspectives. The contemporary writings pick up many of the same themes of traditional tales while situating them in modern society. The themes remain the same: the struggle to maintain tradition, culture, kinship, and values against the onslaught of a dominant culture that tries to subvert all things Native. A compelling collection of traditional tales and contemporary short stories, some of which are heart-wrenching. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This book was incredible. Part of what makes it so is that the editor, Paula Gunn Allen, wrote an in-depth introduction so that the non-native reader would understand background conversations among Native writers about their own writing and to introduce cultural nuances of the stories. At the beginning of each section she wrote about the Native concept of that section's title, one of which was warrior, which does not always mean someone who goes to war. She also wrote a brief introduction to eac This book was incredible. Part of what makes it so is that the editor, Paula Gunn Allen, wrote an in-depth introduction so that the non-native reader would understand background conversations among Native writers about their own writing and to introduce cultural nuances of the stories. At the beginning of each section she wrote about the Native concept of that section's title, one of which was warrior, which does not always mean someone who goes to war. She also wrote a brief introduction to each of the short stories giving it's time and place in Native literature and what some of the cultural expectations or illustrations were. A prime example was the stories of Yellow Woman/Corn Woman and her impact on the people. Gunn Allen also created a glossary and provides notes about each writer so that the reader can follow up with other things these women have written. The stories themselves are breathtaking. Some of them are a punch in the gut as the reader is faced with the decimation of native people by the Europeans. I could barely get through Louise Erdrich's story because what happens in the story is so horrible. Some of the stories show the beauty of Native life and traditions. My favorite section was the one entitled "Warriors" because it showed women who were warriors in ways that the tribe would recognize instantly, but that non-native people would not; we might simply describe the woman as being "strong." Not enough ways to praise these powerful, painful and beautiful stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    This book has many stories written by Native American women. I'm half Native American and I love to read books about Native Americans and learn more about the culture. This book I had found while searching on my library's website and I was very excited to borrow and read it. The stories are very well-written and a few of them I really did like. All the stories were pretty good, but I actually found the whole book to be depressing. Reading this made me realize how much people focus on race, gender, This book has many stories written by Native American women. I'm half Native American and I love to read books about Native Americans and learn more about the culture. This book I had found while searching on my library's website and I was very excited to borrow and read it. The stories are very well-written and a few of them I really did like. All the stories were pretty good, but I actually found the whole book to be depressing. Reading this made me realize how much people focus on race, gender, etc and focus on what they can't do because of their race, or gender. I know history, I know what has happened to Native Americans and other races. But, if the book taught me anything, it's that race shouldn't be our main focus and we shouldn't focus on what we can't do because of our race. The book is definitely not a favorite and I don't think I'll read it again, but I think I did take something from it and learned from it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    I thought more about these stories on my morning walk. My siblings and I inherited our mother's difficult and tragic childhood. These stories helped me understand our mamma better. May she and we all walk in peace with beauty all around us. I thought more about these stories on my morning walk. My siblings and I inherited our mother's difficult and tragic childhood. These stories helped me understand our mamma better. May she and we all walk in peace with beauty all around us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna Marcet

    Aquest llibre parteix d'una idea molt clara: donar visibilitat a la dona nativa nord-americana tant com a protagonista en la literatura, com a autora i creadora. Paula Gunn-Allen traça una línia contínua entre la literatura oral precolonització i la literatura contemporània, sense oblidar mai el procés de pèrdua, engany, mort i confinament que ha provocat un trauma col·lectiu que encara perdura avui en dia. El llibre pretén demostrar que les dones natives nord-americanes no són comparables a les d Aquest llibre parteix d'una idea molt clara: donar visibilitat a la dona nativa nord-americana tant com a protagonista en la literatura, com a autora i creadora. Paula Gunn-Allen traça una línia contínua entre la literatura oral precolonització i la literatura contemporània, sense oblidar mai el procés de pèrdua, engany, mort i confinament que ha provocat un trauma col·lectiu que encara perdura avui en dia. El llibre pretén demostrar que les dones natives nord-americanes no són comparables a les dones blanques en qüestions de feminisme: elles vénen de cultures on ja eren lliures i respectades, i l'opressió com a dona és indivisible a l'opressió colonialista. Per a complir tots els seus objectius, Paula Gunn-Allen combina històries tradicionals de diversos pobles - sempre protagonitzats per dones, evidentment - amb relats escrits per escriptores natives contemporànies. Ho acompanya tot amb un context històric general, a l'inici del llibre, i breus introduccions a cadascuna de les històries. El llibre m'ha agradat. Les històries estan curosament triades per a mostrar una varietat d'estils, interessos i moments històrics, a la vegada que compleixen la promesa de presentar-nos dones fortes. Li dono tres estrelles, i no més, per dos motius: - El primer i més important, ja que penso que es podria haver tingut en compte a l'hora d'elaborarel llibre, és que Paula Gunn-Allen dóna molt poca informació sobre costums, univers mitològic, percepció del món i d'altres qüestions de context que són molt necessàries per entendre la profunditat i les implicacions de les històries. Les cultures natives nord-americanes són molt desconegudes, i tenen unes particularitats que són difícils d'imaginar. Un context més precís ajudaria a entendre les històries molt millor, especialment tradicionals, on de vegades sembla que "no passa res", i en canvi tots els elements tenen, de ben segur, un significat que per a una lectora occidental és impossible de copsar. - El segon és que penso que el llibre ha envellit malament. El concepte de dona independent i valenta ha canviat des que es va publicar. Les històries que es presenten com a "revolucionàries" ara mateix, ja no ho són tant. On Gunn-Allen presenta dones que són exemples a seguir, jo no podia evitar veure-hi dones atrapades. El llibre m'ha deixat un profund sentiment de tristesa, no només per les barbaritats que aquests pobles i aquestes dones han hagut de passar (que també) sinó per la sensació que les possibilitats eren molt més àmplies del que les dones que protagonitzen les històries, i la mateixa Gunn-Allen, són capaces de veure. Potser és moment de treure una nova antologia d'escriptores natives que mostrin les seves perspectives avui en dia.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    3.5.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This was sort of a mixed bag. Some of the stories were very well-written and moving, but it varied, and with the best there was some frustration at how fragmentary they were. The arrangement was interesting, where often there would be one traditional tale followed by a contemporary tale with similar themes, so you could draw some interesting comparisons that way. The most-irritating segment was by the author. I had not originally seen that, but had been wondering whether she always wrote that wa This was sort of a mixed bag. Some of the stories were very well-written and moving, but it varied, and with the best there was some frustration at how fragmentary they were. The arrangement was interesting, where often there would be one traditional tale followed by a contemporary tale with similar themes, so you could draw some interesting comparisons that way. The most-irritating segment was by the author. I had not originally seen that, but had been wondering whether she always wrote that way, or if it was just a way of trying to convey the influence of the marijuana on the narrator's thoughts. Seeing that it is the same writer, I see from the introduction and section notes that she can write other ways, but then in those parts there is a lot of resentment that comes through. It makes sense, but I think it weakens the overall work. I don't regret reading it but I am not recommending it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This is a very intentional anthology--it gives you the feeling that each story in here really made the cut and is here for a reason. Gotta say I never would have guessed there is so much material from Native American women writers. There are many favorites in this collection, but here are a few: "The Woman Who Fell from the Sky," Traditional Mohawk; "As It Was in the Beginning," E. Pauline Johnson; "Yellow Woman," Leslie Marmon Silko; "An American in New York," LeAnne Howe. This is a very intentional anthology--it gives you the feeling that each story in here really made the cut and is here for a reason. Gotta say I never would have guessed there is so much material from Native American women writers. There are many favorites in this collection, but here are a few: "The Woman Who Fell from the Sky," Traditional Mohawk; "As It Was in the Beginning," E. Pauline Johnson; "Yellow Woman," Leslie Marmon Silko; "An American in New York," LeAnne Howe.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    Native American Lit Class

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    I really enjoyed the contemporary fiction and some of the folktales in this collection but I feel there are more compelling collections of writing by Native American women.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I'm reading it for school....and I'm worried I'm reading it for school....and I'm worried

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    My favorite story was "An American in New York" My favorite story was "An American in New York"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Carefully curated collection of short fiction pieces by Native American women, selected to show agency and contemporary connections to the traditional past.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leslie D. Soule

    Great anthology of Native American warrior woman literature. :)

  15. 5 out of 5

    MB Shakespeare

  16. 4 out of 5

    Britta

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Buzzetta

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amir

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ngọc Mai

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorianne DiSabato

  23. 5 out of 5

    Grandma Jake

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tina Rose

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeanine Parker

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gaian Rena Bird

  29. 4 out of 5

    Halimahitsna

  30. 4 out of 5

    Megan Elder

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