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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
I am an American. To be more precise and more politically correct, I am an African-American. For the most part, this is just a phrase or term that someone else made popular and now most of us use. In truth, I know very little about Africa. After reading Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth Finnegan, I know a lot more. I know more about the oral traditions in Native American culture than I do in African culture, but that’s not a problem. There are similarities and it is fascinating to read about African and European oral traditions and note where they are similar and where they are markedly different. Oral Literature in Africa is a great book with which to introduce yourself to the oral tradition in Africa. Ruth Finnegan is a good writer and has obviously spent a lot of time among the people and cultures that she writes about.
There is actually an oral tradition among African-Americans and it is very satisfying to read how such a tradition might have its roots. I enjoyed Oral Literature in Africa because I learned a lot. The information was presented in an insightful, organized, and interesting manner, with plenty of pictures and illustrations. Oral Literature in Africa is a proper scholarly work with footnotes and references, but non-scholars can read and enjoy it just as much as the serious scholar. If you are interested in anthropology and the literary traditions of a variety of African tribes, you should pick up a copy of Oral Literature in Africa today. It is part of the World Oral Literature Series and, because it is an Open Book publication, you can read it on line and download the PDF and e-book for free.