The Folk-Tales of Burma: An Introduction

The Folk-Tales of Burma: An Introduction

The Folk-Tales of Burma: An Introduction

The Folk-Tales of Burma: An Introduction

Synopsis

This handbook is the first in-depth overview of the fascinating world of Burmese folk-tales. Part one provides a wide-ranging and multi-disciplinary survey of folk-tale studies, together with a broad functional classification of Burma's tales. Part two presents, mostly for the first time in a European language, the categorized actual tales themselves. With commentaries on plots and cross-cultural motifs - past and present. With index, substantial bibliography, and suggestions for further research.

Excerpt

Our purpose in producing this book has been threefold. Firstly we wanted to make available to the wider world a substantial and representative sample of Burma's large inventory of folk-tales. This involved gathering them from various publications, many of them either available only in Burmese or otherwise rather difficult of access. A subsidiary aim here was to represent the various styles used in those already translated into English. Here, we have retained the original spellings. As for those tales that had been hitherto available only in Burmese, we have translated them in a plain style which, while remaining faithful to the sense of the text, approximates to colloquial English. Some readers may regard certain tales as coarse: flatulence, urination, defecation and menstruation are all mentioned, and we have neither edited these features out nor prettified the language used.

Secondly, we wished to present the tales in some appropriate classification, however broad that might have to be. This necessitated studying the published work of various folklorists with a view to making use of their suggested schemes. We eventually contented ourselves with a mainly functional categorisation which, though broad, seemed to cater for the vast majority of the tales we encountered. This classification will no doubt need to be modified and extended in the light of further studies.

Finally, and in some ways most importantly, we wanted to start the process of placing the folk-tales of Burma's various peoples in a global context—to put them 'on the map'. This meant relating them to the folk narratives of other peoples, however distant in time or place they might be. In this respect we are aware that we have only begun to scratch the surface of a rich seam that still remains to be worked.

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