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Okla Hannali Paperback – Oct 15 1991

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; New edition edition (Oct. 15 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806123494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806123493
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,288,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This curious and wonderful tall tale contributes to the apocalyptic revision of American history that began with Little Big Man and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It’s the tale of Hannali Innominee, a ’Mingo’ or natural lord of the 19th-century Choctaw Indian [and] a capacious, indomitable giant of the ilk of Paul Bunyan....Lafferty tells it straight: how the Choctaw nation, once removed, reconstituted itself and thrived in Indian territory...., how there came a schism between the rich, part-white, slave-owning, moneylending Choctaws and the ’feudal, compassionate, chauvinistic’ full-blooded freeholders like Hannali; and how, during the Civil War, the Indians were manipulated divide-and-conquer fashion in helping destroy each other."–Kirkus Reviews.

“The history of the Choctaw Indians has been told before and is still being told, but it has never been told in the way Lafferty tells it….Hannali is a buffalo bull of a man who should become one of the enduring characters in the literature of the American Indian.”—Dee Brown

“The use of the epic form is unusual and effective, and Lafferty’s humor is both subtle and boisterous: he writes with warmth and sympathy for the Indian. This is a valuable addition to the growing literature on the subject.—Library Journal

“[Okla Hannali] is elemental Americana and a great deal of fun.”—Wall Street Journal

“It’s an American classic.”—Voice Literary Supplement

About the Author

R. A. Lafferty (19142002) was a writer and retired newspaperman in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has written many stories and several books, including Archipelago, The Devil Is Dead, Not to Mention Camels, and Ringing Changes.

Geary Hobson is Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, author of the novel The Last of the Ofos, and editor of The Remembered Earth: An Anthology of Contemporary Native American Literature.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa8d3a558) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b5e024) out of 5 stars A story that needs to be told. Oct. 25 2005
By not4prophet - Published on
Format: Paperback
Fans of R. A. Lafferty (1914-2002) can make a very strong case for him as the greatest American author who has ever lived. Yet even so, he has always been an little-known author and now seems fading towards total obscurity. Both in the speculative fiction community and in the world of 'serious' literature, few of even the most devoted fans will recognize his name. If Lafferty does drop out of people's awareness entirely, the world will lose more than merely a lot of great books. Lafferty's body of work, produced in a amazingly short thirteen years, is one of the great creative achievements of the human race.

"Okla Hannali", not even viewed as one of Lafferty's better novels, is a stunning achievement. Every element of the author's craft is used to near perfection: plot, character, setting, emotional arch, and language. And language. No review could do justice to Lafferty's brilliance with words, yet I must try.

"Okla Hannali" is written in many voices. An individual paragraph may sound entirely different from the next, with different vocabulary and different structure. Yet as with all of Lafferty, there is an enormous amount of method behind the madness. The voices Lafferty chooses are at every time the appropriate voices. They are the words, the styles, the flows that are exactly right for communicating the story. Lafferty set out to tell the history of the Choctaw people. To do so he had to overcome both the racist view of Indians as savages and the romanticized view of them as peace-loving and perfect. Crushing these barriers meant using some odd linguistic styles.

For instance, Lafferty tells us early on that the Choctaws never understood punctuation, and simply spoke in a stream of words without clear starts and ends. He captures this style:

"Pushmataha say that I leave my grin there grinning at him and walk out from behind it and take a ramble and a drink and a nap all the while he was hold his breath and swell up and turn purple and then I come back rested and slip into my grin again and so have him tricked"

Is reading this difficult? That's your call, of course, but you get used to it as the book goes along. But this is important. Lafferty wants to show you what life was like among the Choctaw Indians. What life was really really like.

Of course Lafferty would never settle for merely so small a goal. There is purpose here. The purpose is to document the abuses that were heaped on the Indians during the eighteenth century, bu the government. To show that no matter what excuses are offered up, there's no decent explanation for what was done to the Native American tribes in these years. And to that end, Lafferty fights with every imaginable weapon: understatement, overstatement, misdirection, fantasy sequences, subplots, historical notes, and more. Most often, though, he tells the truth. For instance when the Indians assess the land that the government tricked them into accepting in Oklahoma:

"They examined the land to the south for a month. They all realized now - (what the worldly of them had always known) - that the north-south distance was about a third of that represented to them, and that the unidsputed domain of the Plains Indians was much closer than they had been told. Three quarters of the land for which they had traded their southern acres did not exist."

R. A. Lafferty believed in things. He believed strongly, believed passionately, and fought to make readers see things his way. "Okla Hannali" is a majestic novel (though as I said it's not even one of his better books) It swings from outrageous comedy to terrible tragedy to poignant romance to gritty action so deftly that you don't notice till the end that the entire world, for one group of people was destroyed.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b5e924) out of 5 stars Okla Hannali Sept. 20 2000
By Paul F. Park MD - Published on
Format: Paperback
A well written and engrossing story of a society and people depicted through an account of the life and experiences of a notable and idealized prominent tribal character, Okla Hannali. The main character's experiences and views embody and illustrate the ideals and principles of a developed yet, beset people. The character parallels the people's adaptation, acquiescence, manipulation and eventual conquest by accommodation of the factors which beset them.
The Choctaw evaluate and accommodate the pressure of the immigrant American drive to acquire their native lands. The tribal people adapt by shifting their territory and preserving their society in a new area. They master the new lands and restructure their society again in the area newly adopted.
The reader feels empathy with the Choctaw. The book gives new understanding and experience of the people. Their blended culture exists today in the area described in the book. It is real.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b5e4b0) out of 5 stars Offers a brilliant look at Choctaw life. Sept. 5 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
My old copy of this book is held together with a rubber band because I've read it so often, and haven't been able to find another copy anywhere. Sensitive insight into the Choctaw experience during their removal to Oklahoma. A must read for anyone interested in American Indians or American history: highly recommended for those simply looking for the story of an endearing man.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b5ed20) out of 5 stars My Favorite Book March 8 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a life time lover of books, I now give book reviews. Years ago, I found "Okla Hannali" in a state lodge book store. I first reviewed it for a group of federated women. Some of them were teachers, and I was invited to give it to two high schools. In all, I probably gave it a dozen times and it was always well received. There was laughter, and at the end when the old chief died, there were tears. Recently, one of my daughters-in-law, who is part Choctaw, discovered it and tells me it is being taught in a class at the University of Oklahoma at Norman.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b5ebc4) out of 5 stars excellant-covers a subject not usually written about Nov. 7 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have bought and given away several paperback copies of this book. It mixes actual historical characters and events with fictionalones to tell an important era in Indian and Oklahioma history.
It isespecially good in pointing out the racist and genocidal policies of Andrew Jackson who should be equated with
Adolph Hitler.c