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Title: Opposition Play
Authors: Iping Liang
Issue Date: Jan-2003
Publisher: 英語學系
Department of English, NTNU
Abstract: This paper argues that by enacting “opposition play,” a form of play meant for strategies of opposition, Chippewa/Ojibway novelist Gerald Vizenor comments on the legacy of Christopher Columbus in contemporary trans-Atlantic intercourses.1 By turning the Admiral into a crossblood Jewish Mayan trickster, Vizenor transforms the tragedy of clash into a comedy of trickstering. His bold imagination not only strikes a chord with postmodern (and postcolonial) revisionism, but also answers the call of literature to “change the world.” The paper consists of two parts. The first attempts to construct a theoretical frame- work of play, drawing from the works of Johan Huizinga (1951), Victor Turner (1982), Mihai Spariosu (1989), Gerald Vizenor (1989), and Cynthia Sau-ling Wong (1993) to illustrate a discourse of play that dates back to the times of archaic Greece. I argue that the prerational form of play could be related to a tribal notion of trickstering, taking cues from Hermes, the messenger of Zeus, who is himself a trickster. By relating the Western discourse of prerational play to the tribal tradition of trickstering, I maintain that the notion of “trickster play” is as “playful” as Greek mythological figures, and that the tribal élan of play could be regarded as “Native American homo ludens,” Vizenor himself being a major player. The second part of the paper gives a thematic reading of the novel to illustrate the discourse of trickster play. It will treat, in particular, three strands of the plot: the legacy of Columbus and Pocahontas; the positive use of modern technology, including radio, laser shows, and genetic research; and the establishment of a utopian Stone Nation at Point Assinika. The paper will conclude with a reading of the epilogue and argue that the novel could be read as Vizenor’s own trickstering of a Tribal New World.
Other Identifiers: 83E51B81-1078-F0A8-F395-C8FE37B871A6
Appears in Collections:Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics

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