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The village of Yakiri has been cursed by ancestral wrath because of the treatment of Yaa, the first girl who wrestled her male goatherd peers to earn the right to be initiated into the society of manhood. Her struggle is taken up generations later by Yaya, the granddaughter of Tafan and Wirba. Orphaned like her forebear, Yaya becomes a star student in the village's primary school and promises to go far. But, ask the villagers, is it right to invest in an education for an African girl who may become the property of another village? An educated woman will abandon the farm where she is needed, wear high heels and try to order men around! In the midst of it all, one Irish missionary, living in Africa and for the most time with Africans, literally wiggles his way into hearts and minds. With his intervention, Yaya leaves the village to school in the city, but her troubles as a woman have not really begun. Yarns of cultural borrowing, indigestion and transcendence reveal the simple and complex ways in which community matters are confronted and decided. This happens in shrines where seers are consulted and cowry shells thrown, in palm wine houses, but also around the school and presbytery. The untold stories and perspectives of girls and women burst through in illuminating and uplifting ways. Quarrels, squabbles, near collisions and mutual conversions give way to innovative traditions.
A Tale of False Fortunes is a masterful translation of Enchi Fumiko's (1905-1986) modern classic, Namamiko monogatari. Written in 1965, this prize-winning work of historical fiction presents an alternative account of an imperial love affair narrated in the eleventh-century romance A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (Eiga monogatari). Both stories are set in the Heian court of the emperor Ichijo (980-1011) and tell of the ill-fated love between the emperor and his first consort, Teishi, and of the political rivalries that threaten to divide them. While the earlier work can be viewed largely as a panegyric to the all-powerful regent Fujiwara no Michinaga, Enchi's account emphasizes Teishi's nobility and devotion to the emperor and celebrates her "moral victory" over the regent, who conspired to divert the emperor's attentions toward his own daughter, Shoshi. The narrative of A Tale of False Fortunes is built around a fictitious historical document, which is so well crafted that it was at first believed to be an actual document of the Heian period. Throughout Enchi's innovation and skill are evident as she alternates between modern and classical Japanese, interjecting her own commentary and extracts from A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, to impress upon the reader the authenticity of the tale presented within the novel.
What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda?
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.
Josephine Pinckney and the Charleston Literary Tradition
Josephine Pinckney (1895-1957) was an award-winning, best-selling author whose work critics frequently compared to that of Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, and Isak Dinesen. Her flair for storytelling and trenchant social commentary found expression in poetry, five novels-Three O'Clock Dinner was the most successful-stories, essays, and reviews. Pinckney belonged to a distinguished South Carolina family and often used Charleston as her setting, writing in the tradition of Ellen Glasgow by blending social realism with irony, tragedy, and humor in chronicling the foibles of the South's declining upper class. Barbara L. Bellows has produced the first biography of this very private woman and emotionally complex writer, whose life story is also the history of a place and time-Charleston in the first half of the twentieth century. In A Talent for Living, Pinckney's life unfolds like a novel as she struggles to escape aristocratic codes and the ensnaring bonds of southern ladyhood and to embrace modern freedoms. In 1920, with DuBose Heyward and Hervey Allen, she founded the Poetry Society of South Carolina, which helped spark the southern literary renaissance. Her home became a center of intellectual activity with visitors such as the poet Amy Lowell, the charismatic presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, and the founding editor of theSaturday Review of Literature Henry Seidel Canby. Sophisticated and cosmopolitan, she absorbed popular contemporary influences, particularly that of Freudian psychology, even as she retained an almost Gothic imagination shaped in her youth by the haunting, tragic beauty of the Low Country and its mystical Gullah culture. A skilled stylist, Pinckney excelled in creating memorable characters, but she never scripted an individual as engaging or intriguing as herself. Bellows offers a fascinating, exhaustively researched portrait of this onetime cultural icon and her well-concealed personal life.
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.