The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2018-07-24 01:18Z by Steven

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit

Penguin Classics
208 pages
5-1/16 x 7-3/4
Paperback ISBN: 9780143132653
Ebook ISBN: 9780525504580

John Rollin Ridge (1827-1867)

Foreword by Diana Gabaldon
Introduction by Hsuan L. Hsu
Notes by Hsuan L. Hsu

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta by John Rollin Ridge

The first novel to feature a Mexican American hero: an adventure tale about Mexicans rising up against U.S. rule in California, based on the real-life bandit who inspired the creation of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Batman

With a new foreword by Diana Gabaldon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

An action-packed blend of folk tale, romance, epic, and myth, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta tells the story of the Gold Rush-era Mexican immigrant Joaquín Murieta, whose efforts to find fortune and happiness are thwarted by white settlers who murder his family and drive him off his land. In retaliation, Murieta organizes a band of more than 2,000 outlaws–including the sadistic “Three-Fingered Jack”–who take revenge by murdering, stealing horses, and robbing miners, all with the ultimate goal of reconquering California.

The first novel written by a Native American and the first novel published in California, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta speaks to the ways in which ethical questions of national security and racialized police violence have long been a part of U.S. history. This edition features excerpts from popular rewritings of the novel, including Johnston McCulley’s first novel about Zorro, The Curse of Capistrano (also known as The Mark of Zorro).

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John Rollin Ridge’s Joaquín Murieta: Sensation, Hispanicism, and Cosmopolitanism

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-19 02:01Z by Steven

John Rollin Ridge’s Joaquín Murieta: Sensation, Hispanicism, and Cosmopolitanism

Western American Literature
Volume 49, Number 4, Winter 2015
pages 321-349
DOI: 10.1353/wal.2015.0008

John C. Havard, Assistant Professor
Department of English and Philosophy
Auburn University, Montgomery, Alabama

The mixed-race Cherokee poet, journalist, and novelist John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit (1854) is a sensation novel about racial upheaval in 1850s California. The work has become prominent in the study of US ethnic literatures largely because it is the first novel authored by a Native American. Many thus read it as a commentary on Indian Removal politics, with Ridge allegorizing his experience as a Cherokee through Joaquín’s sufferings. Several factors support this reading. The byline features Ridge’s tribal name, Yellow Bird, instead of his Anglicized name. Moreover, the publisher’s preface emphasizes Ridge’s ancestry and the Cherokee Nation’s plight in the years following the Trail of Tears. These framing moves played upon the marketable curiosity of a Cherokee novelist. They also prompted readers to draw a parallel between Cherokee Removal and the novel’s more ostensible concern for the dispossession of Mexicans in California. Moreover, Ridge’s characterization of Murieta as dashing, romantic, and vengeful reflects Ridge’s own reputation and self-image. Finally, the Westernized Murieta embodies the Cherokee adoption of Western social and political structures, a process that Ridge followed his family in promoting.

Readings elaborating these connections reflect Indian literary identity politics, nationalism, and indigenism. According to the often-overlapping nationalist and indigenist positions, Native authors ought to view literature as a valuable medium through which to speak with subtlety and nuance for the concerns of particular Indian nations and for the general human dignity of Indigenous peoples. Critics, likewise, are exhorted to explicate the specifically national, Indigenous aspects of Indian literature. As advocate for this movement Simon J. Ortiz explains,

Too much is at stake for easy, convenient images to adequately and appropriately represent Indigenous people, much less to bring attention to conditions and circumstances that need to be brought to light. Indigenous writers and poets such as myself can undertake this task to the best of our abilities by creating and composing literature.

What is at stake here, of course, is Native America’s need to protect its cultural and legal sovereignty against the legacies of European colonialism. As Ortiz claims, that struggle “has given substance to what is authentic” in Native literatures, animating the Indigenous, national consciousness of the surge in Native literary production since the 1970s (“Towards” 9, 11–12). Although Louis Owens is known for a hybridist account of Indian identity that is frequently contrasted to nationalist perspectives, he echoes a basic element of Ortiz’s premise in claiming that “for the contemporary Indian novelist . . . [the question of tensions between US American and Native American] identit[ies] is the central issue and theme” (5). For many critics, including Owens, Ridge’s novel prefigures contemporary Indian fiction in its pursuit of this theme.

I offer a non–mutually exclusive alternative interpretation that elaborates the novel’s cosmopolitanism. This cosmopolitanism, I argue in my first subsection, takes shape in Joaquín Murieta’s form. Often considered inchoate, the novel is, in fact, purposefully organized. This becomes apparent if we read it as a sensation novel. That Ridge put sensation to cosmopolitan purposes may seem surprising. Sensation is often associated with racist cliché, particularly in contrast to late-nineteenth-century social realism, which was commonly used to combat racial prejudice. However, in Ridge’s formulation, whereas social realism tends to imagine the nation in terms of the particularity of typical national actors, the sensation novel imagines the commonality of the peoples who meet in a narrative. If much sensation relies on racialist conventions, Ridge cleverly manipulates such conventions to propound his cosmopolitanism to his readers. This cosmopolitanism informs a critique of what can be termed Hispanicism, the discourse by which US imperialists bound the United States to liberalism by contrasting Americans with illiberal Hispanophone peoples. Through this strategy US imperialists rejected Hispanic claims to national sovereignty on the basis of a supposed Hispanic aversion to social and economic progress, an aversion exhibited in a rejection of liberal, democratic self-government. As I formulate this point in my second subsection, Ridge contests Hispanicism’s discursive violence by characterizing Murieta as a good liberal in contrast to…

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Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: Celebrated California Bandit

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-02-20 20:03Z by Steven

Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: Celebrated California Bandit

University of Oklahoma Press
1977 (Originally published in 1854 by W. R. Cooke and Company)
210 pages
5″ x 7.5″
Paperback ISBN: 9780806114293

John Rollin Ridge (1827-1867)

In 1854, a Cherokee Indian called Yellow Bird (better known as John Rollin Ridge) launched in this book the myth of Joaquín Murieta, based on the California criminal career of a 19th century Mexican bandit. Today this folk hero has been written into state histories, sensationalized in books, poems, and articles throughout America, Spain, France, Chile, and Mexico, and made into a motion picture.

The Ridge account is here reproduced from the only known copy of the first edition, owned by Thomas W. Streeter, of Morristown, New Jersey. According to it, the passionate, wronged Murieta organized an outlaw company numbering over 2,000 men, who for two years terrorized gold-rush Californians by kidnapping, bank robberies, cattle thefts, and murders. So bloodthirsty as to be considered five men, Joaquin was aided by several hardy subordinates, including the sadistic cutthroat, “Three-Fingered Jack.” Finally, the state legislature authorized organization of the Mounted Rangers to capture the outlaws. The drama is fittingly climaxed by the ensuing chase, “good, gory” battle, and the shocking fate of the badmen.

Read the entire book (Courtesy of Three Rocks Researchhere.

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Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation on 2013-12-14 20:58Z by Steven

Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place

University of Oklahoma Press
288 pages
5.25″ x 8.5″
Illustrations: 17 b&w photos
Paperback ISBN: 9780806133812

Louis Owens (1948-2002), Professor of English and Native American Studies
University of California, Davis

In this challenging and often humorous book, Louis Owens examines issues of Indian identity and relationship to the environment as depicted in literature and film and as embodied in his own mixedblood roots in family and land. Powerful social and historical forces, he maintains, conspire to colonize literature and film by and about Native Americans into a safe “Indian Territory” that will contain and neutralize Indians. Countering this colonial “Territory” is what Owens defines as “Frontier,” a dynamic, uncontainable, multi-directional space within which cultures meet and even merge.

Owens offers new insights into the works of Indian writers ranging from John Rollin Ridge, Mourning Dove, and D’Arcy McNickle to N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, James Welch, and Gerald Vizenor. In his analysis of Indians in film he scrutinizes distortions of Indians as victims or vanishing Americans in a series of John Wayne movies and in the politically correct but false gestures of the more recent Dances With Wolves. As Owens moves through his personal landscape in Oklahoma, Mississippi, California, and New Mexico, he questions how human beings collectively can alter their disastrous relationship with the natural world before they destroy it. He challenges all of us to articulate, through literature and other means, messages of personal and environmental — as well as cultural—survival, and to explore and share these messages by writing and reading across cultural boundaries.

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