The Land of the Pheasant and the Deer

A book that recently migrated from the stacks to Special Collections is a translation of Antonio Mediz Bolio’s The Land of the Pheasant and the Deer: Folksong of the Maya. This English edition of the work includes several illustrations by renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Best known for his controversial murals, Marxist ideals, and tumultuous marriage to Frida Kahlo, Rivera remains a central figure in Mexican and 20th century art.

The prologue to this edition reads:

“The Land of the Pheasant and the Deer” by Antonio Mediz Bolio is an example and a lesson for the literature of America. In its pages- as Emerson said- thought itself has created the style. As they are being read the grace of their reasoning ripens in the spirit. The soul enters, avid and bold, into dimly visualized realms, and it gradually discovers in advancing the sense of relation that mates and binds together the races in our Continent. Their voices seem to bathe in waters of dream, of breeze, of ocean. The poet’s word breaks in the shadow or glares under the bronzy sky. Behind it the outcry of the maya chorus raises the stem of its elegance and of its prophecy.”

The author, Anthony Mediz Bolio, was born in 1884 to a wealthy family, and spent most of his childhood at his father’s hemp plantations. On the plantations, he was surrounded by Mayan people, who did not speak Spanish. Bolio was exposed to the colorful Mayan language this way. In this work, which he wrote in Spanish, he tried to emulate the phrasing of the Mayan language. In the dedication, he writes:

“I am from the land of the Mayab. She is my mother. To my mother dedicate I this book, too little for her, too much for me.

“To the woman whose eyes tenderly watched upon this offspring of my heart.

“To the sons of the Mayab, my brothers in blood and in hope.”

The stories can also be read in Spanish here.

You can view this book in Special Collections. During the summer session, we are open Tuesday-Thursday 9am-4:30pm, and Monday and Friday by appointment only.

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