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Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya: The Great Classic of Central American Spirituality, Translated from the Original Maya Text Paperback – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806138394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806138398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Allen J. Christenson is Associate Professor of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. He is the author of Art and Society in a Highland Maya Community: The Altarpiece of Santiago Atitlan.

Customer Reviews

This book was very fun to read!
AP World History Student
My purchase went perfectly well, in fact, better than I expected since I received my item far sooner than I expected.
Isabelle
Tedlock's is good but this translation, format, and over all presentation is excellent.
XibalbaScott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By A Careful and Attentive Reader on August 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
It would be a shame to let the slipshod and factually inaccurate review (below) pass without correction and comment as this is an exciting new scholarly edition of the most important extant Maya text.

Even a cursory reading of the first page of the introduction (and throughout) would have supplied the information that the translator Christenson's primary Maya linguistic expertise is in Quiché (or K'iche'). And of course it would be extraordinarily foolhardy for anyone to attempt a translation of the Popol Vuh without a knowledge of the language in which the text is written.

This is not the place to rehearse the arguments regarding the purpose, practise and philosophy of translation - this has been done at great length by such well known commentators on the subject as Eco and Steiner not to mention the myriad even more technical writers. But the writer of the previous review passes judgement on the `accuracy' of the translation compared to that of Tedlock's readable and famously demotic version. One has to wonder how this judgement has been arrived at, and logically, what third, control element was used against which to compare the accuracy of the translations. Surely this would have had to have been the 16th century Quiché text which would, of course, require a knowledge of that language and it's historical orthography. It seems more likely that the reviewer simply compared the two translations; not much of a methodology. It would be a travesty if such an inadequate critique was allowed to stand unchallenged.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By XibalbaScott on October 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the last review. This is the best version of the Popol Vuh to date. Tedlock's is good but this translation, format, and over all presentation is excellent. The first review seems to have a case of the sour grapes!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Giddens on July 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a must have for anyone interested in the ancient Mayan culture. The author lived among the Mayans while he translated the Popol Vuh (Mayan mythology) and shares much of what he learned from them, as well as what they learned from him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark on January 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
This translation of the Mayan Sacred work was extremely helpful to me in researching and learning about the civilization. Christensen has extensive knowledge on the Maya and their language. Whereas many translations of Popol Vuh come from Spanish translations (a translation of a translation), this one comes straight from the text's native language. Awesome!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kate Polk on October 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Popol Vuh, anonymous Mayan authors excellently combine both the history and the lore of the Quiché Maya to tell the story of their origin and explain their existence as well as explain why things in the world happened the way that they did. As an AP World History student, I found this book incredibly intriguing. The way that Christenson translated this from the original language was not only fluid but captured the voice of the Maya. Their unique tone and style is clear and contributes a rustic feel that helps the reader clearly visualize the events being described. Both the adventures of the various Mayan gods and the tales of wars between the Quichés and the so-called nations offer an interesting read and an insight to early Central American culture.
Popol Vuh has a clear purpose. As stated in the preamble, it is to "...tell the ancient stories of the beginning, the origin of all that was done in the citadel of Quiché, among the people of the Quiché nation." The authors do this well, of course. They clearly illustrate how the earth, the animals, and the different versions of people (mud, wood, etc) were created and what purpose they served in the order of things. Animals, for example, were created to be eaten and humans were created to praise the gods. Then, slightly out of order, the stories of various human-like gods, including Hunahpu and Xbalanque, are told. These stories describe why things happen the way they do. They give explanations to things such as the size of the macaw's eyes and the wideness of the whippoorwill's mouth. Finally, Popol Vuh gives an account of the early history of the Quiché Maya. All of these combined complete a tale of the ancient stories of the beginning, as the authors reference them in the preamble, as well as the origin of the Quiché Maya and their people.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By V. M. Badertscher on January 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I'm not a scholar, I cannot judge whether this is the best of the many translations and explications of Popol Vuh. Although the footnotes make it perhaps more detailed than an ordinary reader can digest, I learned a great deal about the Maya by reading this. Fascinating stories with fascinating parallels to legends of other religions, including Jewish and Christian.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By theasianenglish on December 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If Maya creation text interests you, I highly recommend this book! Especially this translation, because it was done by my teacher and he is a truly incredible person. Extremely knowledgeable of the Mayan language, the sites and rulers--everything you expect from an expert. This is also an interesting read for anyone who is interested in comparing this creation text to others for religious studies.
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