Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales

By Ibrahim Muhawi; Sharif Kanaana | Go to book overview

Introduction

The Tales

The forty-five tales included in this volume were selected on the basis of their popularity and the excellence of their narration from approximately two hundred tales collected on cassette tapes between 1978 and 1980 in various parts of Palestine—the Galilee (since 1948 part of the state of Israel), the West Bank, and Gaza. The criterion of popularity reflects our intention to present the tales heard most frequently by the majority of the Palestinian people. Both our own life-long familiarity with this material and the opinions of the raconteurs themselves helped us to assess a tale’s popularity. We made a point of asking the tellers to narrate the tales heard most often in folktale sessions of the past, and in most cases we selected only those tales for which we had more than one version. In the few cases where variants were not available (e.g., tale 44), excellence of narration was the determining criterion, as it was in choosing a version (always taken as a whole and without modification) from among the available variants.

In this collection we have included only the type of tale known in the Palestinian dialect as ḥikāye or xurrafiyye—that is, “folktale” proper. With such terms as Märchen, wonder tale, and fairy tale all used to designate the kind of narrative under discussion here, the word folktale almost defies definition. The Arabic terms, however, provide us with helpful clues. The first, ḥikāye (which, correctly translated, means “tale”), is derived from a root that means not only “to narrate” but also “to imitate (artistically).” Hence the designation ḥikāye puts the emphasis on the mimetic, or artistic, aspect of narration, whereas xurrafiyye (properly translated, “fabula”) is derived from a root stressing its “fabulous,” or “fictitious,” aspect. (The term xurrafiyye, we must note, is the more inclusive of the two, for it is also used to refer not only to folktales but to other types of fictional oral narrative as well.)

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Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Note on Transliteration xvii
  • Key to References xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes on Presentation and Translation 51
  • Group I - Individuals 53
  • Children and Parents 55
  • Siblings 84
  • Sexual Awakening and Courtship 115
  • The Quest for the Spouse 148
  • Group II - Family 173
  • Brides and Bridegrooms 175
  • Husbands and Wives 206
  • Group III - Society 251
  • Group IV - Environment 279
  • Group V - Universe 295
  • Folkloristic Analysis 327
  • Appendix A- Transliteration of Tale 10 381
  • Appendix B- Index of Folk Motifs 387
  • Appendix C- List of Tales by Type 403
  • Selected Bibliography 405
  • Footnote Index 413
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