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Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen
This revisionist study reevaluates the origins and foundation myths of the Faqaris and Qasimis, two rival factions that divided Egyptian society during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Egypt was the largest province in the Ottoman Empire. In answer to the enduring mystery surrounding the factions’ origins, Jane Hathaway places their emergence within the generalized crisis that the Ottoman Empire—like much of the rest of the world—suffered during the early modern period, while uncovering a symbiosis between Ottoman Egypt and Yemen that was critical to their formation. In addition, she scrutinizes the factions’ foundation myths, deconstructing their tropes and symbols to reveal their connections to much older popular narratives. Drawing on parallels from a wide array of cultures, she demonstrates with striking originality how rituals such as storytelling and public processions, as well as identifying colors and emblems, could serve to reinforce factional identity.
The Death Narrative of the Bhagavata-Purana
Tales for the Dying explores the centrality of death and dying in the narrative of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a, India’s great text of devotional theism, canonized as an integral part of the Vais|n|ava bhakti tradition. The text grapples with death through an imaginative meditation, one that works through the presence and power of narrative. The story of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a is spoken to a king who is about to die, and it enables him to come to terms with his own passing. The work does not isolate dying as an issue; it treats it on many levels. This book discusses how images of dying in the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a relate to issues of language and love in the religious imagination of India. Drawing on insights from studies in myth, literary semiotics, and depth psychology, as well as from Indian commentarial and aesthetic traditions, the author examines the power of myth and narrative (storytelling or hari kathaµ) and shows how a detailed awareness of the Puraµn|ic imagination may lead to a revisioning of some long-held presuppositions around Indian religious attitudes toward dying. By casting Vais|n|ava bhakti traditions and Puraµn|ic narrative in a fresh light, the mythic imagination of the Puraµn|as takes its place on the stage of contemporary discourse on comparative mythology and literature.
The nearly 350 humorous, heartwarming, and sometimes tragic accounts presented in William Lynwood Montell’s latest book, Tales from Kentucky Doctors, offer an unusual perspective on the culture and tradition of Kentucky health-care practice. From the laughable to the laudable, Tales from Kentucky Doctors present illuminating portraits of doctors and patients, drawing stories from physicians with lifetimes of experience serving Kentucky families. In chapter 2, doctors recall the successes and failures that shaped their early careers. For Dr. Baretta R. Casey of Hazard, becoming a doctor was a difficult journey. Already married and with a child, Casey enrolled in college at age thirty, later completed medical school, and began a successful career as a family practitioner in the 1990s. Though patient visitations and doctors’ prescriptions are recorded on account ledgers, personal relationships and memories are not part of medical records. The section “Personal Practice” gives a glimpse of the intimate relationships doctors form with their communities. “I doubt that any individual was nearer to the family than the family doctor,” Dr. W. L. Tyler says in one story. For many towns, family physicians were heroes. Dr. James S. Brashear relates the challenges of practicing in Central City, a coal mining town, recalling an incident in which he saved the lives of two miners. Handed down to Montell in the oral tradition, the tales presented in this collection represent every part of the state. Personal experiences, humorous anecdotes, and local legends make it a fascinating panorama of Kentucky physicians and of the communities they served.
In Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes, William Lynwood Montell has collected stories and reminiscences from funeral home directors and embalmers across the state. These accounts provide a record of the business of death as it has been practiced in Kentucky over the past fifty years. The collection ranges from tales of old-time burial practices, to stories about funeral customs unique to the African American community, to tales of premonitions, mistakes, and even humorous occurrences. Other stories involve such unusual aspects of the business as snake-handling funerals, mistaken identities, and in-home embalming. Taken together, these firsthand narratives preserve an important aspect of Kentucky social life not likely to be collected elsewhere. Most of these funeral home stories involve the recent history of Kentucky funeral practices, but some descriptive accounts go back to the era when funeral directors used horse-drawn wagons to reach secluded areas. These accounts, including stories about fainting relatives, long-winded preachers, and pallbearers falling into graves, provide significant insights into the pivotal role morticians have played in local life and culture over the years.
" “A woman was sitting on the witness stand, and the lawyer asked her, ‘Did you, or did you not, on the night of June 23rd have sex with a hippie on the back of a motorcycle in a peach orchard?’ She thought for a few minutes, then said, ‘What was that date again?’”—from the book Lawyers have long been known as master storytellers, and those from Kentucky are certainly no exception. Veteran oral historian and folklorist Lynwood Montell has collected tales from dozens of lawyers and judges from throughout the Bluegrass State, ranging from the story about the tough Jackson County judge who fined himself for being late to court to unwelcome dogs in the courtroom. Recorded just as they have been told for generations, these stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad or frightening, sometimes raw and harrowing, but always remarkable. Far more than collection of lawyer jokes, Tales from Kentucky Lawyers recounts the most insightful, entertaining, and occasionally heartbreaking stories ever told by and about Kentucky lawyers and their clients, covering the spectrum from arson to homicide, domestic disagreements to sexual abuse, and everything in between. Tales from Kentucky Lawyers is a valuable resource for folklorists as well as an entertaining and vivid account of the often-surprising legal world.
In an educational era defined by large school campuses and overcrowded classrooms, it is easy to overlook the era of one-room schools, when teachers filled every role, including janitor, and provided a familylike atmosphere in which children also learned from one another. In Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers, William Lynwood Montell reclaims an important part of Kentucky’s social, cultural, and educational heritage, assembling a fun and fascinating collection of schoolroom stories that chronicle a golden era in Kentucky. The firsthand narratives and anecdotes in this collection cover topics such as teacher-student relationships, day-to-day activities, lunchtime foods, students’ personal relationships, and, of course, the challenges of teaching in a one-room school. Montell includes tales about fund-raising pie suppers, pranks, outrageous student behavior (such as the quiet little boy whose first “sharing” involved profanity), and variety of other topics. Montell even includes some of his own memories from his days as a pupil in a one-room school. Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers is a delightful glimpse of the history of education.
Following the success of his collections of stories from funeral directors, schoolteachers, doctors, and lawyers, folklorist William Lynwood Montell presents a new volume of tales from Kentucky sheriffs. Montell collected stories from all areas of the state to represent the diversity of social and economic backgrounds in the various communities the officers serve. Tales from Kentucky Sheriffs covers elections, criminal behavior, and sheriff’s mistakes in a lighthearted and often humorous manner. The book includes accounts of a drunk driver who thought he was in a different state, a sheriff running a sting operation with the U.S. Marshals, and a woman reporting a tomato thief in her garden. Other accounts involve procedural errors with serious consequences, such as the tale of a sheriff who mistakenly informs a man that his son has committed suicide. Together, these firsthand narratives preserve important aspects of Kentucky’s history not likely to be recorded elsewhere.
In Tales from No. 9 Ice House Street, Patrick Yu takes up his story as he returns to Hong Kong to become the first Chinese Crown Counsel.
Perhaps no one has keener insight into human nature than the small-town trial lawyer. All but lost in an era of corporate law firms and specialized practice, this charismatic figure was once at the political center of a community and was the holder of its many secrets. A small town attorney’s only specialization was the town itself. Serving as both defender and accuser, these lawyers witnessed communities and individuals at their best and worst. Men and women of the legal profession often exert influence in seemingly small realms, but they play an important role in the lives of many people and help shape the American legal system. Veteran oral historian and folklorist William Lynwood Montell has brought together a fascinating collection of tales gathered from lawyers and judges throughout the Volunteer State. Montell searched small towns and cities across Tennessee for the law’s older and middle age practitioners, and he shares the wealth of their experience in Tales from Tennessee Lawyers. These stories are recorded exactly as told by the lawyers themselves, and they reveal candid and unusual snapshots of the legal system—both past and present. With a tape recorder and an ear for detail, Montell uncovers events and lives ranging from the commonplace to the extraordinary. A man resorts to prostitution to alleviate the debt brought about by divorce proceedings. Identical twins are tried for a string of murders. A convict flees his trial by stealing the judge’s car. A prosecutor tries the nation’s first school-shooting case. Judge George Balitsaris, a former University of Tennessee football player, escorts a special prosecutor out of a notorious rape trial as a precaution after the defendant’s family issues threats. These and similar stories illustrate the strange, complex cases argued daily from Tennessee’s largest cities to its smallest towns. Far more than just a collection of lawyer jokes, these recollections shed light on the tense and often dangerous lives of those who work to see that all receive fair representation and treatment in court.
Ten Thousand Years on an American Desert
One hundred miles south of Albuquerque, two parallel chains of mountains isolate a 120-mile jumble of black rock, dry lake beds, flesh-colored sand, and desolation. This is the Jornada del Muerto, the Journey of the Dead.
So named because of a particular death centuries ago, this desert has witnessed many tales of loss and destruction. Alan Boye takes us on a trek through the beauty and violence of this forbidding land. Traveling the wasteland by foot, Boye visits battle sites from the Mexican-American War, to the Civil War, from the lonely canyon where the Apaches fought to keep their homeland, to the isolated site of the world’s first atomic explosion. In the sand and dust and the ruins of war, Boye discovers stories of sadistic killers, directionless rebels, and gun-toting gauchos—but also tales of poets and dreamers, of ordinary men and women who lived their lives and continue to live under this wide and ruthless desert sky. He introduces us to many travelers who have tested the desert: mysterious ancient people who built cliff-top fortresses, Spanish conquistadors, Mexican farmers, old time cowboys yodeling classical poetry to their cattle, and modern range managers tracking livestock by satellite. This is the story of an American desert told through the eyes of those who knew it best and brought to life through Boye’s own travels across the Journey of the Dead.