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Oral Epics from Africa Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent by John William Johnson, Thomas Hale, Stephen Belcher

Oral Epics from Africa Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent

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Part of the African Epic Series


Oral Epics from Africa Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent by John William Johnson, Thomas Hale, Stephen Belcher

It seems incredible that heretofore there has not been an introductory anthology of African epics presented in English. Western culture traces its literary heritage to such well-known epics as the Iliad and the Odyssey and Gilgamesh . But is only recently that scholars have turned their attention toward capturing the rich oral tradition that is still alive in Africa today. The twenty-five excerpts in this volume have been selected and introduced in order to offer English-speaking readers a broad sample of the extensive epic traditions in Africa. The introduction to the volume, and the introduction to each epic will enable students to understand the context of each epic and also develop leads for further inquiry. The book is divided geographically with nineteen epics representing West Africa, two from North Africa, and four from Central Africa. There are bibliographies for each section and epic.


The editors ... must be congratulated ... Long live the African storytellers! Africa Today It is difficult to imagine a more practical introduction to contemporary African epic than this anthology ... no other single volume comprehends the full scope of African epic (as opposed to praise poetry) the way this one does... The stories are engaging, and the free-verse translations are surprisingly readable... Recommended for all academic collections. Choice

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Book Info

Publication date

1st April 1997


John William Johnson, Thomas Hale, Stephen Belcher

More books by John William Johnson, Thomas Hale, Stephen Belcher
Author 'Like for Like'


Indiana University Press


356 pages


Oral history
Folklore, myths & legends



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