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History Native American

Nine Visits to the Mythworld

Told by Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

by (author) Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

translated by Robert Bringhurst

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Native American, Folklore & Mythology, Indigenous Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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In the Fall of 1900, a young American anthropologist named John Swanton arrived in the Haida country, on the Northwest Coast of North America, intending to learn everything he could about Haida mythology. He spent the next ten months phonetically transcribing several thousand pages of myths, stories, histories and songs in the Haida language. Swanton met a number of fine mythtellers during his year in the Haida country. Each had his own style and his own repertoire. Two of them—a blind man in his fifties by the name of Ghandl, and a septuagenarian named Skaay—were artists of extraordinary stature, revered in their own communities and admired ever since by the few specialists aware of their great legacy.

Nine Visits to the Mythworld includes all the finest works of one of these master mythtellers. In November 1900, when Ghandl dictated these nine stories, the Haida world lay in near ruins. Wave upon wave of smallpox and other diseases, rapacious commercial exploitation by fur traders, whalers and miners, and relentless missionization by the church had taken a huge toll on Haida culture. Yet in the blind poet’s mind, the great tradition lived, and in his voice it comes alive. Robert Bringhurst’s eloquent and vivid translations of these works are supplemented by explanatory notes that supply the needed background information.

About the authors

Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas was born around 1851 in the Haida village of Qaysun. His world was devastated by waves of European diseases, which wiped out over ninety percent of the Haida population and robbed him of his sight. He became a skilled listener, taking in the myths, legends and everyday stories of his people. Creatively adapting them, the storyteller became a master of his craft, a trained and skilful mythteller.

Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas' profile page

Robert Bringhurst is a poet, typographer and linguist, well known for his award-winning translations of the Haida storytellers Skaay and Ghandl, and for his translations of the early Greek philosopher-poet Parmenides. His manual The Elements of Typographic Style has itself been translated into ten languages and is now one of the world’s most influential texts on typographic design. Among his most recent publications is a pair of essay collections, The Tree of Meaning (GP, 2006) and Everywhere Being is Dancing (GP, 2007). Bringhurst lives on Quadra Island, off the British Columbia coast.

Robert Bringhurst's profile page