Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives

Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives

Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives

Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives

Synopsis

"... a model of judiciousness and integrative analysis... " -- Research in African Literatures

Poet and anthropologist Michael Jackson brings to this study of the folktales of the Kuranko people of Sierra Leone a sensitivity to the philosophical nuances of literature.

Excerpt

The research which culminates in the publication of a book is always linked to a hidden biography in which chronology is irrelevant, and to a unique society which appears on no map and has no single language. During the years it takes for a book to be researched and written, and out of all the conversations, journeys, and observations necessary for the realization of such a project, this biography and this society are being made. the biography includes moments from the lives of many people whose paths cross fortuitously and whose contacts with one another often remain indirect. the society is a true kindred, for it has reality only through the individual who occasions its emergence, and he too in turn is a part of an infinity of encounters and reflections. These tangential worlds which emerge in the process of creating domains of knowledge are neither utterly incidental nor completely insignificant, for long after a book is written or an interpretation decided upon, they remain, on the verge of articulation, as memories whose strenth derives perhaps from the fact that they have never been hammered into shape or brought forward for general scrutiny. These fields of knowledge, created in passing as it were, might provide the raw material for other books and interpretations, and so create in their turn further subsidiary domains lying beyond what is immediately understood. But we choose to retain some aspects of these inchoate areas, and so prevent the regression of absurdities which occurs when meaning seeks to prevail over that which suggests its possibility.

These glimpses . . .

A night in Kabala in February 1972. I am lying in the darkness of my room, thinking of home. Gbongbon, like myself a stranger to the house, keeps me awake for hours and distracts me from my melancholy as she regales a score of children in the adjoining room with stories about Hare and Hyena. Her voice seems to fill the space under the tin roof and drift through the walls of the house. the next night I persuade . . .

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