In this Book

summary

Popol Wujis considered one of the oldest books in the Americas. Various elements of Popol Wuj have appeared in different written forms over the last two millennia and several parts of Popol Wuj likely coalesced in hieroglyphic book form a few centuries before contact with Europeans. Popol Wuj offers a unique interpretation of the Maya world and ways of being from a Maya perspective. However, that perspective is often occluded since the extant Popol Wuj is likely a copy of a copy of a precontact Indigenous text that has been translated many times since the fifteenth century.

Reading Popol Wujoffers readers a path to look beyond Western constructions of literature to engage with this text through the philosophical foundation of Maya thought and culture. This guide deconstructs various translations to ask readers to break out of the colonial mold in approaching this seminal Maya text.

Popol Wuj, or Popol Vuh, in its modern form, can be divided thematically into three parts: cosmogony (the formation of the world), tales of the beings who inhabited the Earth before the coming of people, and chronicles of different ethnic Maya groups in the Guatemala area. Examining thirteen translations of the K’iche’ text, Henne offers a decolonial framework to read between what translations offer via specific practice exercises for reading, studying, and teaching. Each chapter provides a close reading and analysis of a different critical scene based on a comparison of several translations (English and Spanish) of a key K’iche’ word or phrase in order to uncover important philosophical elements of Maya worldviews that resist precise expression in Indo-European languages.

Charts and passages are frontloaded in each chapter so the reader engages in the comparative process before reading any leading arguments. This approach challenges traditional Western reading practices and enables scholars and students to read Popol Wuj—and other Indigenous texts—from within the worldview that created them.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title page, Copyright page, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-2
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  1. Introduction. Some Basics: The K’iche’, Popol Wuj, Decolonial Reading, and Comparative Translation
  2. pp. 3-18
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  1. 1. This Is the Root: Popol Wuj
  2. pp. 19-40
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  1. 2. Traitor Translator? Foregrounding the Act of Translation
  2. pp. 41-64
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  1. 3. Winaqirik: When Creation Is Not Creation
  2. pp. 65-98
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  1. 4. Making Oneself Big: The Logics of Pride in Popol Wuj
  2. pp. 99-138
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  1. 5. The Extraordinary Power of the Nawal: Notions of Self and Ecology in Popol Wuj (and Beyond)
  2. pp. 139-184
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  1. Conclusion: Chomaj
  2. pp. 185-190
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 191-214
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 215-222
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 223-230
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  1. About the Author
  2. pp. 231-236
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816541249
Related ISBN
9780816538119
MARC Record
OCLC
1144941237
Pages
248
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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