From his engaging introduction, which includes a primer on reading Mayan hieroglyphs, Tedlock considers the texts chronologically. He elevates the individuals who wrote them to the status of authors rather than scribes and establishes that women were among the ancient writers. He treats poetry as an integral part of the Mayan writing system rather than as something added, and he challenges the idea that Mayan rulers claimed the status of gods.
This original, innovative, and important volume pursues its themes with extraordinary insight and imagination. It expands not only our understanding and appreciation of Mayan literature but of indigenous American literature in its entirety.