The art of losing: historical allusions in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues

Title: The art of losing: historical allusions in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2015, vol. 41, iss. 2, pp. [23]-41
Extent
[23]-41
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
License: Not specified license
 

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Abstract(s)
In his capacity as poet, writer of novels and short stories and filmmaker, Sherman Alexie (b. 1966) has successfully bridged the cultural and social gap separating Native Americans from mainstream American society. With a combination of humor, wit, deep sensitivity, social satire and historical awareness, Alexie has effectively portrayed the contemporary plight of Native Americans isolated on reservations where many are doomed to live desperate lives on the distant periphery of American culture. The present study is an attempt to enhance appreciation of Alexie's novel Reservation Blues (1996) by examining a network of historical allusions appearing in the novel that lay bare the military, economic and social forces that undermined Native American culture, especially that of the Plateau Indians in the American Northwest, including that of Alexie's own tribe, the Spokanes. The study draws upon ideas from recent historical studies such as Heather Cox Richardson's Wounded Knee (2010) and Elliot West's The Last Indian War (2009) as well as sources used by Alexie himself in the writing of the novel.