Synopses & Reviews
The nine stories contained in this volume are the finest offerings from one of the last of the traditional Haida storytellers, Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas. Ghandl was born in 1851 in a small Haida island community off the coast of British Columbia. His world was devastated by waves of European diseases, which wiped out over ninety percent of the Haidas and robbed him of his sight. He became a skilled listener, taking in the myths, legends, and everyday stories of his people. Creatively adapting them, the blind storyteller became a master of his craft. In 1900 John Swanton, with the help of a translator, transcribed a number of Ghandl's narrative poems.
Nearly all of the poems in this volume are qqaygaang, narrative poems set in the Haida mythtime of long ago. One story, “The Names of Their Gambling Sticks,” is a qqayaagaang, a story that juxtaposes mythtime and historical time and is the property of a Haida family. Each poem creatively enacts a myth in a way that illuminates and celebrates the traditional world of the Haidas and reveals Ghandl's own acute sense of the foibles and great potential of all human beings. Meticulously and sensitively translated and annotated by Robert Bringhurst, these stories have finally been given the attention they deserve.
About the Author
The author of A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World (Nebraska 2000) and The Black Canoe: Bill Reid and the Spirit of Haida Gwaii, Robert Bringhurst is one of Canada's most respected poets and cultural historians.