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Interpreting the Legacy

John Neihardt and Black Elk Speaks

by Brian Holloway

Paperback Price $27.95
Ebook Price $22.95
30-day ebook rental price $11.50

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"[Interpreting the Legacy] will help refurbish Neihardt's reputation as a faithful witness to Black Elk's story and vision and, one would hope, encourage more readers to encounter Black Elk Speaks, a work that, in my opinion, richly deserves recognition as one of the most important religious books of the twentieth century."

—William J. Urbrock, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

"Of special value is Holloway's own analysis of the ways in which Black Elk Speaks fits into the broader picture of Neihardt's literary work, and in particular his mysticism. . . . The heart of the book has the greatest relevance for anyone wishing to understand the making of Black Elk Speaks."

—Raymond J. DeMallie, State University of New York


Ambitious and provocative, Interpreting the Legacy: John Neihardt and Black Elk Speaks is a new study of the classic spiritual text that is sure to spark debate. Neihardt's work has recently been critiqued by scholars who maintain that the author filtered and corrupted Black Elk's teachings through a European spiritual and political lens. In this book, Brian Holloway offers a rather different view, making a convincing case that Neihardt quite consciously attempted to use his literary craftsmanship to provide the reader with direct and immediate access to the teachings of the Oglala elder.

Using Neihardt's original handwritten notes and early manuscript drafts, Holloway demonstrates the poet's careful and deliberate re-creation of Black Elk's spiritual world in order to induce a transcendent experience in the reader. Through exhaustive research into Neihardt's biographical materials, published philosophical and metaphysical writings, and volumes of taped lectures, Holloway examines the sources of the book's production as well as the reactions to and the implications of his literary portrayal of the spiritual world of the Oglala.

Restoring Neihardt's reputation as a faithful witness to Black Elk's sacred landscape, Interpreting the Legacy: John Neihardt and Black Elk Speaks will be of interest to Neihardt scholars and students of literature, religious studies, and Native American studies.


Brian Holloway is professor emeritus of English at Mountain State University in West Virginia.

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  • Paperback Price: $27.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-64642-078-0
  • Ebook Price: $22.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $11.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-143-5
  • Publication Year: 2002
  • Pages: 256
  • Illustrations: 11 b&w
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Brian Holloway
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87081-679-6
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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