Although it has largely gone unnoticed in the scholarship both on the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity and on Native American literature, there is a long tradition of indigenous writers of North America making strategic use of the European “classics”: the languages, literatures, mythologies, and histories of ancient Greece and Rome. From an Indian student at Harvard College in the late seventeenth century to present-day essayists, novelists, and poets, generations of Native writers have made use of Greco-Roman antiquity in a characteristically indigenous mode of writing of the self, creating a portrait of the individual inseparable from his or her people, and they have variously negotiated the relationship between the “classical” antiquity of Euro-American culture and the still-living antiquity of their own indigenous cultures. In this lecture I present a representative selection of texts, sketch some interpretive paradigms, and argue that these writers are in general anything but naïve assimilationists. Finally, I review some of the ways in which Native North American writers have used the very language of “antiquity,” considering some of the questions thereby raised about the meanings of that concept.
Respondenz: Folgt in Kürze.