Thursday, March 11, 2010

Women in Folklore Month: Tales Arab Women Tell by Hasan M. El-Shamy

Today's book is Tales Arab Women Tell by Hasan M. El-Shamy.

El-Shamy is one of the leaders for studying and analyzing Arab folklore, especially for English speaking readers. I have a few of his books on my shelf and hope to add more in the future. I also recommend Types of the Folktale in the Arab World: A Demographically Oriented Tale-Type Index but it is really best for hardcore studying and searching for tale types. For the more casual reader, Moroccan Folktales and Folktales of Egypt.

Actually I plan to some month do a "Folklore Around the World" theme and El-Shamy will definitely be featured then. For now, back to his Tales Arab Women Tell, an excellent resource on an often neglected group.

Book description from publisher:

"Tales Arab Women Tell is a rare, intriguing, and highly readable collection of Arab tales performed by female narrators. It presents tales from the Arab world in a fluent and attractive way." --Ulrich Marzolph

This cross-cultural examination of kinship and affinal relations as expressed in traditional folktales is based on field data compiled by the author. The gender factor and its impact on the form, structure, and contents of each item are explored in conjunction with the concepts of multiple role-playing, role transition, and role-strain.

Review from Library Journal:

With new tales and further research into female culture in the Arab world, El-Shamy (folklore and Near East language and culture, Indiana Univ.) updates her 1984 title of the same name. Including more than 50 translated tales and variants, this thoroughly documented academic survey and analysis samples classic oral literature from Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Kuwait, Algeria, etc. The result is a cross-cultural consideration of kinship and family relations as captured in traditional folktales and other lore genres. The tales, all offered by female tale tellers, are clearly and accessibly rendered. The headnotes provided for each tale identify the narrator, specifying family relations, age, regional origin, education, and other pertinent details; in true scholarly fashion, references and ancillary information such as linguistic peculiarities are also provided. Appendixes supply a detailed analysis of tale-types, motifs, and full research data. This valuable contribution in the areas of anthropology and folk literature will be a treasured acquisition in academic Arab studies collections.

And here's a link to the table of contents for the book.

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