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How to Read a Folktale


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A Merina performer of the highlands

A Merina performer of the highlands

Photo by Lee Haring (1975)

1This book is a complete rewriting of an earlier translation, published for scholars in 1994. It owes its existence to the distinguished scholar and critic Ruth Finnegan, who pointed me to Open Book Publishers, and to Alessandra Tosi and Mark Turin, who made the new book possible by their willingness to publish in Open Access. A rewriting was prompted by the discoveries of François Noiret (1993) and his review of the earlier book in Cahiers de Littérature Orale (1995). An exhilarating class of highly capable undergraduates at the University of California at Berkeley demonstrated to me that retranslating would be a feasible plan. I am grateful for a second chance to make a rare piece of world literature available to the English-speaking world.

2My research in Malagasy folklore began in 1975–1976, when I had the honour of serving the University of Antananarivo (then the University of Madagascar) as Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Folklore. University colleagues and librarians and the staff of the American Cultural Center in Antananarivo were unfailingly helpful. Subsequent research in Paris and London was supported by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York and by membership in a summer seminar of the National Endowment for the Humanities. John F. Szwed, who led the seminar, has been a constant inspiration to my thinking. Numerous others have encouraged my work, including Louis Asekoff, David Bellos, Dan Ben-Amos, Jacques Dournes, Marie-Paule Ferry, Melita R. Fogle, Henry Glassie, Alison Jolly, Susan Kus, Frans Lanting, César Rabenoro, Pierre Vérin, Robert Viscusi, and Susan Vorchheimer. Cristina Bacchilega gave very helpful suggestions for the introduction.

3This book, like its predecessor, is dedicated to my beloved son Timothy Paul Haring.

Table des illustrations

Titre A Merina performer of the highlands
Légende Photo by Lee Haring (1975)
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k


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