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Fabienne C. Quennet
Where 'Indians' Fear to Tread?
A Postmodern Reading of Louise Erdrich's North Dakota Quartet
The two fields of contemporary Native American literature and culture exist in the tension between two literary traditions: the Native oral and literary tradition and the modern Western mainstream literary influence. In her North Dakota quartet Love Medicine (1984), The Beet Queen (1986), Tracks (1988), The Bingo Palace (1994), Native American mixedblood author, Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) exemplifies where and how these traditions meet and interact. A postmodern reading of the quartet shows that Native American authors and literary critics alike need not be afraid to tread into postmodernism, since an interpretation from this perspective opens up the possibility of freeing Native American literature from the limiting label of "ethnic or minority literature" and of establishing it as a vital part of American literature.
This postmodern interpretation of Louise Erdrich's quartet offers a discussion of the theoretical issues involved in the context of ethnic writing and its relation to postmodernism, as well as an analysis of her intricate narrative strategies, in particular, her use of multiple perspectives and of intertextual techniques. The main part of the interpretation consists of a reading of postmodern concepts such as magical realism, carnivalesque humor, the relationship between reader and text, gender roles and sexual identities, history and textuality, the trickster figure, and games and chance as can be found in Louise Erdrich's North Dakota quartet.