Louise Erdrich is one of the most critically and commercially successful Native American writers. This book is a fully comprehensive treatment of her writing, analysing the textual complexities and diverse contexts of her work to date. Drawing on the critical archive relating to Erdrich's work and Native American literature, it explores the full depth and range of her authorship. Breaking Erdrich's oeuvre into several groupings – poetry, early and late fiction, memoir and children's writing – it develops individual readings of both the critical arguments and the texts themselves. The book argues that Erdrich's work has developed an increasing political acuity to the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in Native American literature, and her insistence on being read as an American writer is shown to be in constant and mutually inflecting dialogue with her Ojibwe heritage.
A review of LouiseErdrich’s Four Souls (2004) in the Christian Science Monitor speaks, albeit somewhat glibly, to the centrality of her position in the general public’s reception of modern Native American issues: ‘[f]or better or for worse, most white people have two popular avenues of contact with Native Americans: casino gambling or LouiseErdrich. My money’s on Erdrich, with whom the odds of winning something of real value are essentially guaranteed’ (Charles 2004). 1 Carelessly, perhaps unconsciously, Charles rehearses one of
, which is weird … The general theme was domestic crisis – money, an old flame showing up, that sort of thing. We thought it would make a lot of money. It didn’t” ’ (Grantham 1985: 45). While this close collaboration says something about the nature of their relationship – arguably few writers are willing to suspend authorial autonomy to this degree – it must again be noted that Erdrich subsequently also collaborated in pseudonymous fashion with one of her sisters, under the name Heidi LouiseErdrich.
Nevertheless, it captured the imagination
The Love Medicine tetralogy and Tales of Burning Love
originally and it is by this name that she is most commonly referred to in the criticism. Despite this, in The Bingo Palace she is acknowledged as the daughter of Lucille Lazarre, adding to her mystique.
2 ‘One of the characteristics of being a mixed-blood is searching. You look back and say, “Who am I from?” ’ (qtd in Smith 1991: 13).
3 From a short piece by J.H. Tompkins, qtd by Owens 1992: 193. The original was published in Calendar Magazine as ‘LouiseErdrich: Looking for the Ties that Bind’ (Oct. 1986
This chapter addresses the neglect of the richness and depth of Erdrich's canvas, which is in full view in her poetry, and, instead of using a contextual analysis, presents a close analysis of a selection of representative poems. It shows that, like most Native American poetry, Erdrich's work leans towards the personal-political, where it reflects on the aspects of place, space and the individual, through themes such as cultural and multiple heritage. The chapter also tries to show the importance and complexity of Erdrich's symbolism, an aesthetic that sets her and other Native poets apart in modern Anglophone poetry.
This chapter updates Erdrich's adult fiction with several ‘mini-essays’ on certain aspects of these novels, first addressing the firm conviction that these novels are worthy of and give the same level of attention which the earlier works have received. It shows how culture and power are expressed in The Antelope Wife and the central idea of disclosure in Last Report. The chapter then discusses the master-narratives of Native American displacement, which emphasise geographical removal and cultural and spiritual dislocation, among others, and also considers land acquisition, repatriation, and truth and legacy in Erdrich's recent fiction.
Tradition, translation,and the global market for Native American literatures
This concluding chapter reviews Erdrich's career and her various works, showing her influence on several writers and the changes that have occurred in Native American criticism. It also clearly demonstrates how Erdrich has become a part of the continued construction of American national discourse.
This book is a full-length study of contemporary American fiction of ‘passing’. It takes as its point of departure the return of racial and gender passing in the 1990s in order to make claims about wider trends in contemporary American fiction. The book accounts for the return of tropes of passing in fiction by Phillip Roth, Percival Everett, Louise Erdrich, Danzy Senna, Jeffrey Eugenides and Paul Beatty. These writers are attracted to the trope because passing narratives have always foregrounded the notion of textuality in relation to the legibility of black subjects passing as white. The central argument of the book, then, is that contemporary narratives of passing are concerned with articulating and unpacking an analogy between passing and authorship. The book promises to inaugurate dialogue on the relationships between identity, postmodernism and authorship in contemporary American fiction.
Catholicism, gender and race in two novels by Louise Erdrich
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
Deuteronomy 22:5 1
The real question comes down to whether we are godly creatures or a mass of differentiated cells. That’s the ultimate identity question.
‘Passing’ into the present: passing narratives then and now
decentred, the same postmodernist principles are not often extended to the authors by publishers, critics and/or the reading public. Contemporary writers such as LouiseErdrich may deploy postmodernist techniques in their writing, but they have been roundly criticised in some quarters for doing so. 50 One of the reasons for which passing is back, if indeed it ever went away, is that even in this postmodern moment, expectations of ‘authenticity’ continue to be applied to authors who are considered ‘marginal’ for various reasons, but most often because of their ethnic