Oral Literature in Africa (World Oral Literature)
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Ruth Finnegan's Oral Literature in Africa was first published in 1970, and since then has been widely praised as one of the most important books in its field. Based on years of fieldwork, the study traces the history of storytelling across the continent of Africa. This revised edition makes Finnegan's ground-breaking research available to the next generation of scholars. It includes a new introduction, additional images and an updated bibliography, as well as its original chapters on poetry, prose, "drum language" and drama, and an overview of the social, linguistic and historical background of oral literature in Africa. This book is the first volume in the World Oral Literature Series, an ongoing collaboration between OBP and World Oral Literature Project. A free online archive of recordings and photographs that Finnegan made during her fieldwork in the late 1960s is hosted by the World Oral Literature Project (http://www.oralliterature.org/collections/rfinnegan001.html) and can also be accessed from publisher's website.
note on ‘epic’. 5. Panegyric Introductory: nature and distribution; composers and reciters; occasions. Southern Bantu praise poetry: form and style; occasions and delivery; traditional and contemporary significance. 6. Elegiac poetry General and introductory. Akan funeral dirges: content and themes; structure, style, and delivery; occasions and functions; the dirge as literature. 7. Religious poetry Introductory. Didactic and narrative religious poetry and the Islamic tradition; the
of African literature. These two chapters therefore will give only a brief summary of what is known about African prose narratives and the problems of analysis, and will concentrate on pointing to gaps in our knowledge rather than repeating what is already known.1 Because so much has been written and published over many years, this field of study has been particularly subject to the vicissitudes of anthropological theories and has reflected only too faithfully the rise and fall of fashions in
of narrators and listeners can be presented. The foibles and weaknesses, virtues and strengths, ridiculous and appealing qualities known to all those present are touched on, indirectly, in the telling of stories and are what make them meaningful and effective in the actual narration. In contexts in which literary expression is neither veiled by being expressed through the written word nor (usually) voiced by narrators removed from the close-knit village group, comment on human and social affairs
of the extent and nature of African oral literature. But even now it is only beginning to be established as a systematic and serious field of study which could co-ordinate the efforts of all those now working in relative isolation. The desultory and uneven nature of the subject still reflects many of the old prejudices, and even recent studies have failed to redress the inherited over-emphasis on bare prose texts at the expense of poetry, or provide any close investigation of the role of
theses (especially Mofokeng 1955). 29 Paris, 1947-; cf. also many articles in Black Orpheus and some in the various IFAN journals; Senghor 1951, etc.; and generalized descriptions such as that in Jahn 1961, Ch. 5. 30 e.g. A. Hampaté Ba (Bambara and Fulani), G. Adali-Mortti (Ewe), Lasebikan (Yoruba), perhaps A. Kagame (Ruanda); cf. also the more general accounts by Colin 1957, Traoré 1958. 31 Notably the Chadwicks’ great comparative study of oral literature which had previously had surprisingly