The Giving Earth


The Giving Earth

A John G. Neihardt Reader

John G. Neihardt
Edited by Hilda Neihardt Petri

301 pages


March 1998


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Internationally known for Black Elk Speaks and A Cycle of the West, John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) wrote in almost all major genres: fiction, lyric and epic poetry, biography, autobiography, travelogue, literary criticism, and the familiar essay. The Giving Earth includes nearly forty selections representing every phase of Neihardt’s art, from the passionate poetry of his youth to the masterworks of his maturity to the lapidary reflections of his old age.

In her introduction, Hilda Neihardt, who was with her father when he interviewed Black Elk at Pine Ridge, provides many personal details surrounding the publication of his works. She also introduces each section. Included among the early lyrics are "Let Me Live Out My Years." The short stories that brought him his first fame are represented by "Dreams Are Wiser Than Men" and the memorably horrific "Alien." An excerpt from The River and I documents a trip down the Missouri as atmospheric and eventful as any described by Mark Twain. A Cycle of the West, the five-volume masterwork written over nearly thirty years, receives its due with chapters from The Song of Three Friends, The Song of Hugh Glass, The Song of Jed Smith, The Song of the Indian Wars, and The Song of the Messiah. The extent of Neihardt's achievement is apparent long before the reader comes to the selections from the classic Black Elk Speaks and the fine, late novel When the Trees Flowered. Concluding the anthology are selections from the literary criticism that helped form his philosophy of literature and the autobiographical writing of his twilight years. The Giving Earth is the gift of a writer's generous spirit and unlimited imagination.


"These short pieces reveal not only the spiritual and artistic growth of John G. Neihardt but foreshadow the themes found in his later, better-known literary works."—Nebraska History

"This sampler of Neihardt’s poetry and prose . . . resurrect[s] the outlines of a long and varied literary career. . . . What this book does, finally, is show the elements in Neihardt that came together in Black Elk [Speaks]."—Los Angeles Times

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