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The Art of Myth and N. Scott Momaday’s _The Way to Rainy Mountain_

This is an essay in Native American philosophy. It examines Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain. The work is largely composed of three distinct voices: the tribal or mythological, the historical, and Momaday’s own personal voice. They recount at once Momaday’s own pilgrimage back to his grandmother’s home after her death and the period of the Kiowas when they reigned for two hundred years as the horse-lords of the Southern Plains. On a deeper level Momaday poses questions about an aesthetics of language in oral culture that we in a written culture can fail to appreciate, including the centrality of myth (or “mythos”)—stories that constitute identities of self and world. Thus Momaday helps expose presuppositions in modern “aesthetics” and articulates elements of an aesthetics of oral mythos and “the remembered land.”

Thomas Alexander
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
United States

 

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