A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller

Harold Scheub

Published by Oxford University Press, USA, 2000
ISBN 10: 0195124561 / ISBN 13: 9780195124569
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Synopsis: In this marvelous collection of hundreds of fascinating, mysterious, and revealing tales, Harold Scheub captures the immense sweep and diversity of African mythology.
Scheub offers an unprecedented collection of 400 stories, arranged alphabetically, that touch on virtually every aspect of religious belief. Here are gods and goddesses, epic heroes and divine tricksters, along with epics of the world's origins, the struggle between the human and the divine, and much more. Scheub covers the entire continent, from the mouth of the Nile to the shores of the Cape of Good Hope, including North African as well as sub-Saharan cultures. Here, for example, is the tale of Abu Zayd (from the Bani Hilal of Tunisia), an epic hero who battles a jinni; and here too is a myth of how the moon and the toad created the first man and woman, from the Soko of Congo. Scheub not only retells each story, but provides information about the respective belief system, the main characters, and related stories or variants. Perhaps most important, Scheub emphasizes the role of mythmaker as storyteller--as a performer for an audience. He explores various techniques, from the rhythmic movements of a Zulu mythmaker's hands to the way a storyteller will play on the familiar context of other myths within her cultural context.
In A Dictionary of African Mythology, Harold Scheub has constructed an invaluable bridge to the richly diverse oral cultures of Africa. In this magnificent collection, he not only provides hundreds of fascinating myths, but recaptures their cultural contexts--in which story and storyteller, tradition and performance, all merge.

Review: There's no Zeus with his thunderbolt or Thor with his hammer; but in Harold Scheub's A Dictionary of African Mythology, there is Kibuka, who shoots arrows from clouds, and Tanit, mother of the universe, with her spear. From over 10 years of living in Africa, Harold Scheub has combed oral and recorded traditions to deliver a treasury of African mythology. Scheub focuses on the art of the storyteller, presenting stories that animate the peoples that tell them. You'll find the full range of archetypal figures here and see how mythic scenarios can vary from region to region. There are the rain-stones from God; the crocodile women; and Wuni, the god who destined men to always have to chase women. Scheub ties the stories together by locating common themes and provides an immense bibliography, along with cross-referencing by culture and country. Africa is not often on our mythology radar, but Scheub demonstrates that the continent's traditions are every bit as colorful and transformative as the myths of other world cultures. --Brian Bruya

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Title: A Dictionary of African Mythology: The ...
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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