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Abstract

In their paper, "First Peoples of the Americas and Their Literature," Gordon Brotherston and Lúcia de Sá turn their attention to the indigenous literature of the Americas. They point out that concerted attempts to edit, translate, and publish the main examples or "classics" of Native American literature began little more than a century ago. Since that time, more than a dozen major cosmogonies have appeared, some of them in editions, which seriously attempt to trace back to pre-Cortesian antecedents. Outlining key classics and the ways that these texts have been disseminated, Brotherston and Sá elaborate on how this rich tradition has shaped later literary projects in the Americas. Brotherston and Sá indicate that these central indigenous texts play a major role in the literary development of Latin America and abroad, but, because such literature has often been devalued, scholars are often not aware of these influences and connections. Focusing on the example of the Popul vuh, they trace the multiple ways that this foundational text has shaped American literature. They illustrate how the Popul vuh, "the Bible of Latin America," has found ever-greater resonance in modern Latin American literature. In their conclusion, they argue that comparative work on the literature of the Americas must include focus on the legacy of native texts. The comparative approach alerts scholars to beliefs and paradigms shared by cosmogonies and classics from all over the American continent, establishing thereby a formal and philosophical premise that sets all subsequent American literature in due perspective.

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