Mayan literature

2000 Years of Mayan Literature
January 8, 2015 – 05:41 pm
Mayan calendar

Mayan literature is among the oldest in the world, spanning an astonishing two millennia from deep pre-Columbian antiquity to the present day. Here, for the first time, is a fully illustrated survey, from the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions to the works of later writers using the Roman alphabet. Dennis Tedlock—ethnographer, linguist, poet, and award-winning author—draws on decades of living and working among the Maya to assemble this groundbreaking book, which is the first to treat ancient Mayan texts as literature. Tedlock considers the texts chronologically. He establishes that women were among the ancient writers and challenges the idea that Mayan rulers claimed the status of gods. 2000 Years of Mayan Literature expands our understanding and appreciation not only of Mayan literature but of indigenous American literature in its entirety.

Note on the Pronunciation of Mayan Words

1. Learning to Read
2. Early Mayan Writing
3. The Skilled Observer from Maxam
4. From the Time of Gods to the Time of Lords
5. Cormorant and Her Three Sons
6. Temple of the Sun- Eyed Shield
7. Temple of the Tree of Yellow Corn
8. Lady Shark Fin and the Eve ning Star
9. The Rattlesnakes of the City of Three Stones
10. Drawing and Designing with Words
11. Graffiti
12. The Question of the Beginning and End of Time
13. The Mouth of the Well of the Itza
14. Writing on the Pages of Books
15. Signs of the Times
16. Moon Woman Meets the Stars
17. The Power of the Great Star
18. Thunderstorm
19. Diagrams of the Days

20. The Alphabet Arrives in the Lowlands
21. The Books of Chilam Balam
22. Understanding the Language of Suyua
23. Song of the Birth of the Twenty Days
24. Conversations with Madness
25. The Alphabet Arrives in the Highlands
26. A Way to See the Dawn of Life
27. Blood Moon Becomes a Trickster
28. The Death of Death
29. The Human Work, the Human Design
30. We Saw It All, Oh My Sons
31. The Count of Days
32. Man of Rabinal

List of Mayan Texts and Translations
List of Figures
List of Maps
Illustration Credits

Dennis Tedlock is Distinguished Professor and Endowed McNulty Chair of English and Research Professor of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo of the State University of New York. He won the PEN Translation Prize for Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings. For his other books he has received awards from the American Folklore Society, the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, and the Association of American Publishers.

“2000 Years of Mayan Literature is a first of its kind . . . imaginatively written, superbly illustrated, beautifully produced and, above all, highly authoritative. . . . For those seriously interested in Mayan writing, the book is a must-buy.”—Andrew Robinson Current World Archaeology

“It isn't often that we're introduced not just to a new work but a new literature—yet that's what we're offered in this revelatory book. . . . This compilation really can be seen as a work of discovery, setting out Mayan literature in a single sweep, in transliteration and in Tedlock's own acclaimed translations. These are framed by fascinating background and interpretative discussion and, just as you'd hope in so important a work, it's all beautifully illustrated and handsomely presented.”—Scotsman

“If you're drawn to global cultures, languages and mythology, this is a cool book to explore.”—David Crumm Read The Spirit

“A hefty scholarly work that reads like serialized magazine articles. To my great amazement, Tedlock writes, and deconstructs, lucidly and penetratingly about a complex and long-running subject—two millennia of Mayan literature. . . . Tedlock’s book is quite accessible to the general reader.”—David Steinberg Albuquerque Journal

“In 2000 Years of Mayan Literature, Dennis Tedlock’s most recent book, readers are enticed to enter the Maya worldview. Tedlock goes to great lengths to bridge the vast cultural gap between the readers and the Mayas who wrote the diverse texts included in this book. . . . He clearly summarises how to read Maya text and, throughout the book, provides Maya cultural context that is also put into relation to European culture to help the reader to better grasp the supposed intentions of the Maya writers. He draws out the poetic quality of Maya writing and shows the vibrancy, changing and living qualities of Mayan writing.”—Walter E. Little University at Albany, SUNY Bltn Of Latin American Research

"Never before has anyone focused so successfully on the literary genius of these ancient authors. Tedlock is so much more than a translator, placing selected Mayan works in a continuous narrative that skillfully links authors from the third century to the sixteenth century with writers of today. An extremely important, original, and innovative work."—Martha J. Macri, coauthor of The New Catalog of Maya Hieroglyphs, Volumes 1 and 2, and Director of the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project, University of California, Davis

"A stunning recreation of the intellectual world of the ancient Maya, the only fully literate people of pre-Columbian America. Informed by the latest research on Maya hieroglyphic writing, art, and mythology, this beautifully illustrated and wonderfully readable work by an outstanding scholar should be on the bookshelf of all those interested in this fascinating civilization."—Michael Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code

"This book is, like the ancient Maya texts and images it explores, a work of art."—David Freidel, co-author (with Linda Schele and Joy Parker) of Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path

"Literally breathtaking. A truly unprecedented gathering and translation of written Mayan texts. Tedlock is making visible, for the first time, a Mayan literature in comprehensible, meaningful form.”"—Jerome Rothenberg, poet, author/editor of Technicians of the Sacred and

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