Scroll through this page to find an archive of material related to Lewis Hyde and his work.
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s book, the 2018 documentary film GIFT, written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Robin McKenna, follows four cases in which gift-exchange and artistic practice currently come together: a potlatch ceremony held by the ‘Namgis Nation of the Kwak- waka’wakw of Alert Bay, British Columbia; the annual Burning Man festival; the work of artist Lee Mingwei; and MAAM, Rome’s “Museum of the Other and the Elsewhere.” Trailer. Now available streaming.
Praise for the film, GIFT:
“Robin McKenna’s elliptical, poetic, and visually arresting GIFT examines the radical concept that creativity is not a commodity to be sold but a blessing to be shared.” –Peter Keogh, The Boston Globe
“Thank you for this magisterial film, subtle as it is on the revolutionary nature of art and the power forged when we honor our gifts and give them away. A dream, a meditation, a all to action.” –Terry Tempest Williams
“At a time when art is relentlessly commercialized and commodified, Robin McKenna’s GIFT provides a gentle and welcome reminder of other values.” –A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“A beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on the creative process and the things that make us human.” –Jonathan Lethem
In the late 1960s Hyde translated, with the help of a number of native speakers, the first two volumes of Pablo Neruda’s three-volume Residencia en la Tierra. When Neruda won the Nobel Prize in 1971, Hyde sought to have his translations published but soon found that the Barcelona-based literary agent Carmen Balcells she had contracted with New Directions for an edition of the Residencias as translated by Donald Walsh.
When Neruda visited New York in April 1972 to read at the 92nd Street Y Hyde met with him at the Algonquin Hotel. He brought a gift—a fossil shell—and Neruda reciprocated with a phonograph record. Hyde had shown him the translations and, after explaining the publishing dilemma, Neruda suggested that they should arrange “a delux edition” of my versions.
Why didn’t Hyde pull out a sheet of Algonqin stationary and have him write that down? He didn’t, and today all that remains in the typescript of Hyde’s translations. PDF
John Lewis Interview
In the spring of 1966, History Professor Allan Spear and Hyde interviewed civil rights leader John Lewis when he passed through Minneapolis on a speaking and fund-raising tour. Hyde was then editor of the University of Minnesota’s literary magazine where the interview was later published.PDF
The Lewis Hyde Archive at the University of Minnesota
In 2012 the “Archives and Special Collections” at the University of Minnesota acquired the bulk of Lewis Hyde’s papers. These include manuscripts and ephemera related to each of his books up to that point, unpublished poems, book reviews, essays, and correspondence with a host of writers and artists (Vicente Aleixandre, Margaret Atwood, Wendell Berry, Robert Bly, Shulamith Firestone, Allen Ginsberg, Ann Hamilton, Maxine Hong Kingston, Marshall Sahlins, Gary Snyder, Bill Viola, David Foster Wallace, and many others.
Also included is a typescript translation of a proposed but never publshed selected poems of Miguel de Unamuno and a typescript of translations by various hands of Rafael Alberti poems, a manuscript that was assembled by Robert Bly and then given over to Hyde who was to edit it for Beacon Press publication. The collection was never published.
The full list of the 2012 acquisition is here PDF
Lewis Hyde on YouTube (& elsewhere)
Talks from the 1995 Minnesota Men’s Conference, all arising out of Hyde’ book, Trickster Makes This World.
Trickster and the Trap of Appetite. (Talk 1 of 5) Lewis Hyde tells the wild Tsimshian trickster story “Raven Becomes Voracious,” as a way to explore the contradiction of having a mortal body while trying to lead an ascetic life, and offers wisdom on the unavoidable trap of desire.
On Shame and Shamelessness. (Talk 2 of 5) Lewis Hyde takes us on a tour through the culture of shame and guilt, the art of shamelessness and living between two worlds. He weaves together stories of Coyote, the American immigrant experience, Ancient Greek mythology and Huckleberry Finn. Recorded at the Minnesota Men’s Conference, 1995.
A Trickster tale: “Mouth at Each End.” (Talk 3 of 5). Lewis Hyde weaves together a Raven trickster story and the Homeric hymn to Hermes, launching into a profound and mercurial commentary on creativity, deception, and the art of living in contradiction. Recorded at the Minnesota Men’s Conference, 1995.
A Trickster tale: “Homeric Hymn to Hermes.” (Talk 4 of 5) Author Lewis Hyde expands his fiercely inquisitive analysis of two Trickster stories (Raven and Hermes). Hyde brings in commentary on popular culture, the persistent mythic archetypes still buried in the psyche, and the life of Frederick Douglass.
The Disjointed Art of Tricksters. (Talk 5 of 5) Lewis Hyde offers a ferociously fascinating take on the essential craft that tricksters offer humanity: their trickery and thievery works the joints that hold our world together, and keep it flexible in ways that would otherwise be impossible. He draws connections between mistletoe, Frederick Douglass, Norse mythology, John Cage, Prometheus, Hermes, Aristotle and others.
Biology of Story
A dozen talks recorded for the “Biology of Story,” an interactive documentary from filmmaker Amnon Buchbinder and producer Geneviève Appleton. The talks touch on matters from Lewis Hyde’s book, Common as Air, Trickster Makes ThisWorld, and The Gift. The full list with links can be found here.
The Longest Line:
a Report on an Election Disaster
On election day 2004, the little town of Gambier, Ohio, the home of Kenyon College, had the longest voting line in the United States with citizens waiting up to eleven hours to cast their ballots. In the weeks that followed, the students in Lewis Hyde’s creative writing class became investigative reporters and produced a pamphlet describing what had happened. This is their report. (PDF)
Dr. Martin Luther King & the Alcatel Commercial
In this often hard-to-find thirty-second commercial, Dr. King’s famous “Dream” speech is used to advertise the communications company Alcatel. In Common as Air Hyde uses this ad to illustrate the point that our practices around cultural property enable or disable certain ways of being human. In this case, capitalizing on their inheritance, Dr. King’s heirs convert their father from a public citizen into a commercial one.