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.
chapter, then, attempts to do several things. I will offer the briefest of overviews of Erdrich’s working collaboration with Michael Dorris (insofar as it has been documented) in order, equally briefly, to address the revision process so key to her work. A glance at the reception of The Crown of Columbus (1991), the one novel published under both authors’ names, will conclude the first section. 1 Rather than further explore speculative terrain, discussion will then turn instead to Erdrich’s two memoirs, The Blue Jay’s Dance (1995) and Books and Islands in Ojibwe
her own writing. These various themes and contexts are often inextricable; to take them together is invariably to consider what it means to understand Erdrich, in her own words, as an American author.
A ‘Chippewa landscape’?
Legally designated as Chippewa in the United States, the word ‘Ojibwe’ is a term that has been used at least since the early nineteenth century and is variously interpreted as referring to the ‘peculiar sound of the Anishinabe voice’ according to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (Vizenor 1993: 133
earlier work has received.
Although The Antelope Wife makes a decisive move away from the reservation, introducing a host of new characters and an ostensibly urban setting, much of this work extends the interconnections of the early novels. The undermining of perceived ‘reality’ as fixed, empirical knowledge is just one of many narrative strategies Erdrich employs. It draws and reflects as much on the nature and inheritance of western post-enlightenment epistemology in relation to other, in this case ‘hyphenated’ Ojibwe ways of perceiving the
The Love Medicine tetralogy and Tales of Burning Love
individual and community, of holding together the fragile shell. It is a metaphor for survival.
For all the nuances and diversions of the first five novels, these books are unified by both location, common characters, ‘the intersection of Catholicism and the shamanistic religion of the Ojibwe’ (Chapman 2007: 149), irony, and other elements to be explicated here that are explored to varying depths in each book. That location, a fictional ‘non-space’ resembling an amalgamation of several reservations and the
-political, reflecting on aspects of space, place, and the individual, through such themes as Native (‘Pan-Indian’ and Ojibwe) cosmology, cultural and multiple heritage, spirituality in all its forms, family and community, claimed and contested identities, and the geographical and political landscape. Largely, though not exclusively, focusing on those poems that deal with spiritual and religious imagery, this chapter endeavours to illustrate the complexity and importance of Erdrich’s symobolism – an aesthetic that sets her, and many other Native poets, apart in contemporary Anglophone
Tradition, translation,and the global market for Native American literatures
/their representativeness. Here, critics, particularly Native critics, more readily pick up what they find problematic, even distasteful, about her brand. If such commercial language is provocative, it is intended to be. It very much reflects Cook-Lynn’s concerns about Dorris’s enterprise, for instance, not least because he also became Erdrich’s literary agent. It reflects David Treuer’s objections to the easy, often clichéd cultural assumptions about her work. The jacket blurb to Books and Islands stands as partial testament to such colouration: ‘In this world, where her Ojibwe
Alex Schafran, Matthew Noah Smith, and Stephen Hall
political lives of infrastructure frequently undermine narratives of technological progress, liberal equality, and economic growth, revealing fragile and often violent relations between people, things, and the institutions that govern or provision them. 8
Yet as Cowen herself points out, these systems can be transformative. In the same essay, she quotes the Ojibwe environmental and political activist Winona LaDuke in explaining her objection to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project, a massive set of pipelines designed to transport shale oil extracted in the
Catholicism, gender and race in two novels by Louise Erdrich
the definitive form of bodily control (in gross violation of Catholic doctrine, of course) by taking his own life. 52
Damien and Leopolda: passing between Native and Christian beliefs
Damien’s at-oneness with his ambiguously gendered body and Pauline’s alienation from her racially mixed body are reflected in the ways in which they fuse Catholic and Ojibway traditions. While Damien begins to practise a mixture of faiths, discovering that ‘The ordinary as well as esoteric forms of worship engaged in by the Ojibwe
Pluralism and the politics of change in Canada’s national museums
Ruth B. Phillips
.F. Davidson, ‘Memory of Defeat in Japan: A
Reappraisal of “Rashomon”’, Antioch Review (December 1954).
11 Personal communication, Alan Corbiere, historian and former director of the
Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, 2013. Corbiere also spoke at a roundtable organised by the War Museum in conjunction with the exhibition.
12 Visitors stayed for an average of forty-five minutes in contrast to the twentyminute average for other exhibitions, and 61 per cent of visitors stayed for close
to an hour.
13 ‘1812 Virtual Exhibition’, Canadian War Museum website, www.warmuseum.