This paper is a critical examination of Louise Erdrich's novel The Antelope Wife, one that has a particular focus in conceptualizations of origins. That is to say, it is an analysis of the novel that scrutinizes the various ways in which “origins” are a vitally important aspect, both of the narrative and of the conceptual paradigms that might be used to interpret it. The Antelope Wife thus problematizes the ways that historical and epistemological foundations are predicated on certain crucial moments of origin, which are then used to legitimate particular interpretations. A concept of a definitive origin is also used to underwrite ideas about cultural authenticity which are then placed in the service of social and political perspectives, with wide-ranging consequences. Such origins concern the beginning of narrative, the politics of ethnicity, and the original innocence of a fall from grace. In each case, the novel is notable for its subtle examination of where such concepts begin, and of the political implications of the very concept of beginnings.
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