Whanganuilibrary.com
Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Sorrow of the earth : Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull and the tragedy of show business / Eric Vuillard ; translation, Ann Jefferson.

By: Vuillard, Éric [author.].
Contributor(s): Jefferson, Ann (Translator) [translator.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Pushkin Press, 2016Copyright date: �2016Description: 155 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781782272212; 1782272216.Uniform titles: Tristesse de la terre. English Subject(s): Buffalo Bill, 1846-1917 | Sitting Bull, 1831-1890 | Indians of North America -- Great Plains -- History -- 19th century | Wild west shows -- United States -- HistoryDDC classification: 978.020922
Contents:
The Museum of Mankind -- What is the eseence of spectacle? -- An actor -- Buffalo Bill in Alsace-Lorraine -- The massacre at Wounded Knee -- Buying a child -- The "Battle" of Wounded Knee -- The town of Cody -- Reality isn't what it used to be -- The princes of entertainment die in sorrow -- Histories -- Snow
Summary: "This astonishing work of historical re-imagining tells the little-known story of the Native Americans swallowed up by Buffalo Bill's great entertainment machine"--Jacket.
Tags from this library: No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.
    average rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due
Non-Fiction Davis (Central) Library
Non-Fiction
Non-Fiction 978.02 VUI Available

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Fascinating, brilliant and angry: the tale of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and the tragic fate of its Native American participants.

Buffalo Bill was the prince of show business. His spectacular Wild West shows were performed to packed houses across the world, holding audiences spellbound with their grand re-enactments of tales from the American frontier. For Bill gave the crowds something they'd never seen before: real-life Indians.

This astonishing work of historical re-imagining tells the story of the Native Americans swallowed up by Buffalo Bill's great entertainment machine. Of chief Sitting Bull, paraded in theatres to boos and catcalls for fifty dollars a week. Of a baby Lakota girl, found under her mother's frozen body, adopted and displayed on the stage. Of the last few survivors of Wounded Knee, hired to act out the horrific massacre of their tribe as entertainment. And of Buffalo Bill Cody himself, hamming it to the last, even as it consumed him.

Told with beauty, compassion and anger, Sorrow of the Earth shows us tragedy turned into a circus act, history into sham, truth into a spectacle more powerful than reality itself. Could any of us turn away?

Originally published in French as Tristesse de la terre in 2014.

Tells the story of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in a narrative story form.

The Museum of Mankind -- What is the eseence of spectacle? -- An actor -- Buffalo Bill in Alsace-Lorraine -- The massacre at Wounded Knee -- Buying a child -- The "Battle" of Wounded Knee -- The town of Cody -- Reality isn't what it used to be -- The princes of entertainment die in sorrow -- Histories -- Snow

"This astonishing work of historical re-imagining tells the little-known story of the Native Americans swallowed up by Buffalo Bill's great entertainment machine"--Jacket.

Translated from the French.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • The Museum of Mankind (p. 9)
  • What Is the Essence of Spectacle? (p. 15)
  • An Actor (p. 23)
  • Buffalo Bill in Alsace-Lorraine (p. 35)
  • The Massacre of Wounded Knee (p. 49)
  • Buying a Child (p. 61)
  • The "Battle" of Wounded Knee (p. 75)
  • The Town of Cody (p. 97)
  • Reality Isn't What It Used to Be (p. 113)
  • The Princes of Entertainment Die in Sorrow (p. 123)
  • Histories (p. 135)
  • Snow (p. 143)

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

The Museum of Mankind Spectacle is the origin of the world. Tragedy stands before us, motionless and strangely anachronistic. And so, in Chicago, at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage, a display of relics on a stall in the central aisle included the desiccated corpse of a newborn Indian baby. There were twenty-one million visitors. They promenaded on the wooden balconies of the Idaho Building, admired the miracles of technology, like the gigantic chocolate Venus de Milo at the entrance to the agricultural pavilion, and then bought cones of sausages for ten cents apiece. Huge numbers of buildings had been erected, and the place resembled a gimcrack St Petersburg, with its arches, its obelisks, its plaster architecture borrowed from every age and every land. The black-and-white photographs we have convey the illusion of an extraordinary city, with palaces fringed by statues and fountains, and ornamental pools down to which stone steps slowly descend. Yet it's all fake. But the highlight of the Columbian Exposition, its apotheosis, the feature that was to attract the greatest number of spectators, was the Wild West Show. Everyone wanted to see it. And Charles Bristol--the proprietor of the stall with the Indian relics and the exhibit of the baby's corpse--also wanted to drop everything and go! He already knew the spectacle, because right at the start of his career, he had been the manager and wardrobe master for the Wild West Show. But it was no longer the same, and it had now become a colossal enterprise. There were two performances a day, and eighteen thousand seats. Horses galloped past a backdrop of gigantic painted canvases. It wasn't the loose string of rodeos and sharpshooters that he had known, but a veritable enactment of History. So while the Columbian Exposition was celebrating the industrial revolution, Buffalo Bill was glorifying conquest. Later on, much later on, Charles Bristol had worked for the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, which employed nearly eight hundred Indians and around fifty Whites to sell its stuff. Its flagship medicine was Sagwa, a mixture of herbs and alcohol for the treatment of rheumatism and dyspepsia. And it would appear that cowboys suffered particularly from wind and borborygmic dyspepsia, because right across the country people were in search of a remedy. Eventually, Charles Bristol abandoned the sale of medicines and embarked on a series of long tours with his collection of objets d'art . Two Winnebago Indians who were part of the Medicine Company had decided to follow him. The museum toured in the Midwest and the little sketches it staged, where the Indians performed dances to illustrate the specific function of each object, were both entertaining and educational. Towards the end of 1890, barely three years before the Columbian Exposition, Charles Bristol had joined forces with a bum by the name of Riley Miller. Once Bristol chummed up with Riley, the story becomes hard to credit. Previously, according to him, Bristol had accumulated his treasures thanks to his Indian friendships--a long succession of little gifts. But Riley Miller was a murderer and a thief. He would scalp and strip dead Indians: he murdered them and then took their moccasins, their weapons, their shirts, their hair--everything. Men, women or children. A part of the relics displayed by Bristol at the Chicago Fair came from these activities. Later on, the history museum in Nebraska bought Charles Bristol's collection; and today, somewhere in the museum's reserve collection, you might well come across the desiccated body of the Indian baby from the Exposition. What this tells us is that show business and the human sciences had their origins in the same displays, with curiosities lifted from the dead. Which means that today, what you find on museum shelves throughout the world is nothing but trophies and plunder. And all the African, Indian or Asian objects that we admire were stolen off corpses. Excerpted from Sorrow of the Earth by Éric Vuillard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.