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Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings Paperback – January 31, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Rev Sub edition (January 31, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684818450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684818450
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Carlos Fuentes Popol Vuh is one of the great books about the creation of the world. It is the Mayan Bible.

Los Angeles Times The volume is required reading for everyone seriously interested in Native American literature or in Meso-American cultural history. Its publication is a major event.

William Arrowsmith, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, Emory University Dennis Tedlock's splendid version...[is] the work of a brilliant anthropologist who is also a true "poet of performance," himself trained by a native Quiché master....Superb notes and glossary...An event of quite exceptional importance.

Vine Deloria, Jr. author of Custer Died for Your Sins Tedlock's translation is sensitive, precise, and illuminating. It will greatly help the Popol Vuh achieve its rightful place as a masterpiece of religious writing, familiar to all those who seek a message that transcends ordinary concerns.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

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Customer Reviews

We are offered an excellent translation of the classic Maya text.
Nina Sammons
I highly recommend this book to any one who has an interest in the Mayan civilization.
Justin S. Mondragon
Now, a couple of things to keep in mind when you read this book (and you should).
Craig Matteson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
The "Popol Vuh," written in a Mayan language but a European script, is the most substantial surviving account of the Maya view of their own history, including that of their gods and divine ancestors, and has presented a host of problems for translators. The Tedlock translation of 1985 added new information to the work of many distinguished predecessors, and made substantial parts of the narrative clear (or at least much clearer).

The fact that a fairly extensively revised edition of this book was not only possible, but necessary, in 1996, a decade after its first publication, might have discouraged the publisher from continuing to call the new version "Definitive" on the cover. The title page more precisely calls it a Revised Edition of "Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life ... with commentary based on the ancient knowledge of the modern Quiche Maya." However, "Definitive" seems to be the marketing buzzword. But how would a third edition be described? (Dennis Tedlock has recently -- 2003 -- returned to the writings of the post-Conquest Maya aristocrats who actually produced the existing "Popol Vuh," in "Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice," so it is clear that his work in the area continues.)

In fact, the work of Dennis and Barbara Tedlock with living Quiche Maya ritualists (priests / diviners / shamans), which, in the first edition, added so much to understanding this early post-Conquest text, was part of a larger expansion of Maya studies, including a more complete decipherment of ancient inscriptions, and greatly improved studies of Maya art. It is now possible to recognize events, and even characters, of the "Popol Vuh" in art centuries older, and their prototypes a millennium earlier.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Maya did not divide their everyday lives and religion. In fact, they didn't have a religion in our sense at all. Their everyday lives were bound up in visions, stories of the heavens, earth, past, and future that were not separate from the reality of their everyday experience. This book, the "Popol Vuh" means Council Book. That is, it is a book for the Lords to consult. One of its other titles is "The Light That Came From Beside the Sea". It is a document of the Quiche Maya who lived (and still live) in a portion of what is present day Guatemala.

The "Popol Vuh" tells the essential myth of the ball game and the hero twins. Its story is far too involved and strange to try and explain it in this review. The story explains things about the Sun, Moon, and Venus in their play across the heavens. It prepares the living for what awaits them in Xibalba (the awful place below the earth). And there is constant gratitude for the knowledge of the creation of men from maize and the light of understanding this book brings them. The various sacred places of mountains, caves, and of ritual sacrifice are all here and powerfully expressed.

Dennis Tedlock translated the text into clear and very readable English. However, that is not sufficient for the uninitiated to understand. So, Tedlock provides us with an introductory essay to help us understand the context of these stories. At the back he also provides notes on the text arranged by page number, a glossary of terms (which we desperately need to read the book), a wonderful bibliography for further reading, and an index.

Now, a couple of things to keep in mind when you read this book (and you should). This text has one written source, and it is written in the Mayan language with a Western alphabet.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
There's something here for the serious student of Mesoamerican culture, the historian, and those who just like mythology. Rather than relying solely on academic translations, Tedlock has employed the services of native speakers of the Quiche Mayan language to give not only the words, but the *feel* of the stories. The first section is a synopsis of the people and events in the Popol Vuh itself from the time of the "creation" all the way to the coming of the Conquistadores, but rather than detracting from the story itself (as such synopses all-too-often do), it adds depth and understanding. I would have appreciated seeing more of the original glyphs, as well as the original forms of many of the names (which have been translated whenever possible), but this is a very minor quibble. Overall, highly recommended!
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By marzipan on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are fascinated by the stories various peoples have told (and still tell) to explain who and why they are, this is essential reading. This Mayan genesis presents a new world, a new reality, peopled by heros, monkeys, and macaws, triumph and treachery. The translation will hold your attention, and the translator's notes on how the story happened to survive contribute to our understanding of this exotic and intriguing material.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By "translator_smith" on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Tedlock's translation is far more than a translation. Because the meaning of the Popol Vuh, he tells us, is situationally dependent (i.e., is likely to change depending on the context in which the reader approaches the text), Tedlock had to receive formal training as Mayan "daykeeper" (shamanistic reader of the Popol Vuh) before he approached the text. The results are amazing -- a depth of commentary and a tapestry of images that will require a dozen readings before I can begin to comprehend it, but intriguing enough that I bought a copy for my wife for Christmas as well. No folklorist should be without this work.
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