Myth is a feature of every culture

Western audiences, familiar with tales that provide a distinct beginning, middle and end, may find that African folktales are not so easily measured. Rather than read in isolation on the page, these stories are meant to be performed to an audience, and an interactive one at that. The storyteller may be interrupted with a better version of the story, or even ousted from his or her position, while endings are often left open. The purpose of these lively tales is to invite discussion, argument and debate, while strengthening a sense of community with a shared knowledge and heritage. In his revised introduction to this edition, Abrahams compares this method of storytelling to jazz, likening the voices of the storytellers to the instruments in a piece of music: ‘Each instrument remains separate, even at the point at which all of them play together.’ In his retellings, Abrahams has sought to preserve the unique voices of the performers – in the process creating an essential collection that showcases the immense creativity and fluidity of African folklore.

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African Folktales | Folio Illustrated Book

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African folktales are born from performance. They are not static stories frozen on a page with neat ‘happily-ever-after’ endings. Instead each storyteller brings their own perspective and personality to a tale – deliberately inviting discussion, argument and debate from their audience. Selected by Folio by acclaimed folklorist Roger D. Abrahams, the 90 stories in this collection feature tales from across the African continent. In his retellings, Abrahams has sought to preserve the individual voice of each storyteller; the result is an essential collection that showcases the remarkable vitality and diversity of African folktales.

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African folktales are born from performance. They are not static stories frozen on a page with neat ‘happily-ever-after’ endings. Instead each storyteller brings their own perspective and personality to a tale – deliberately inviting discussion, argument and debate from their audience. Selected by Folio by acclaimed folklorist Roger D. Abrahams, the 90 stories in this collection feature tales from across the African continent. In his retellings, Abrahams has sought to preserve the individual voice of each storyteller; the result is an essential collection that showcases the remarkable vitality and diversity of African folktales.

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Narrative Theory – Literary Theory and Criticism Notes