Black Elk Speaks and Autobiography

Topics: Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt, Black Elk Pages: 2 (653 words) Published: February 21, 2013

Over the 10 weeks I have been learning about what an autobiography is and other things as well. (In my opinion, an autobiography entails someone’s life story from the time they can remember up until present day, and is written and edited by that person). During this course I was assigned to read several passages, and I was trying to determine whether or not they were autobiographies. One passage that comes to mind is by author V. S. Pritchett, Writing an Autobiography. After reading this I had a better understanding of what an autobiography should entail. The last passage that I read caught me by surprise because I really had to concentrate on key phrases, or sentences that helped me understand that it was an autobiography. John Neihardt, the author of, Black Elk Speaks, could be interpreted as something else rather than an autobiography, because Black Elk didn’t write it. Black Elk told the story to his son Ben Black Elk. Who then translated It in English to John Neihardt, and his daughter to record.

After doing research on line about the book Black Elk Speaks, I noticed that there was a lot of controversy about the author of the book. Which entailed whether or not the book actually was written word for word that came out of Ben Blacks mouth? The primary argument made is that Neihardt, being the author and the editor, was able to exaggerate or change some parts of the story. He did so to make the story more palatable and marketable to a white audience in the 1930s. When I was reading through this book I found myself questioning numerous times, whether or not this truly was an autobiography or if it was something else. (I say this because throughout the book there are other tribe members that

I know that an autobiography is one’s life story written by the author, and is narrated by them as well. I now know that there can be exceptions to that rule because of the circumstances of language barriers, or being illiterate, I also...

Cited: V. S. Pritchett: “Writing an Autobiography,” reprinted from Page 2, ed. Francis Brown. (New York: Holt, Rhinehart & Winston, Inc., 1969). Copyright by V.S. Pritchett. Reprinted by permission of Harold Matson Co., Inc.
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