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The Annotated African American Folktales
by Henry Louis Gates and Maria Tatar


Overview -

Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. Following in the tradition of such classics as Arthur Huff Fauset's "Negro Folk Tales from the South" (1927), Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men (1935), and Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (1985), acclaimed scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr.  Read more...


 
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More About The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates; Maria Tatar
 
 
 
Overview

Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. Following in the tradition of such classics as Arthur Huff Fauset's "Negro Folk Tales from the South" (1927), Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men (1935), and Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (1985), acclaimed scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar assemble a groundbreaking collection of folktales, myths, and legends that revitalizes a vibrant African American past to produce the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of African American folktales ever published in American literary history. Arguing for the value of these deceptively simple stories as part of a sophisticated, complex, and heterogeneous cultural heritage, Gates and Tatar show how these remarkable stories deserve a place alongside the classic works of African American literature, and American literature more broadly.

Opening with two introductory essays and twenty seminal African tales as historical background, Gates and Tatar present nearly 150 African American stories, among them familiar Brer Rabbit classics, but also stories like "The Talking Skull" and "Witches Who Ride," as well as out-of-print tales from the 1890s' Southern Workman. Beginning with the figure of Anansi, the African trickster, master of improvisation--a spider who plots and weaves in scandalous ways--The Annotated African American Folktales then goes on to draw Caribbean and Creole tales into the orbit of the folkloric canon. It retrieves stories not seen since the Harlem Renaissance and brings back archival tales of "Negro folklore" that Booker T. Washington proclaimed had emanated from a "grapevine" that existed even before the American Revolution, stories brought over by slaves who had survived the Middle Passage. Furthermore, Gates and Tatar's volume not only defines a new canon but reveals how these folktales were hijacked and misappropriated in previous incarnations, egregiously by Joel Chandler Harris, a Southern newspaperman, as well as by Walt Disney, who cannibalized and capitalized on Harris's volumes by creating cartoon characters drawn from this African American lore.

Presenting these tales with illuminating annotations and hundreds of revelatory illustrations, The Annotated African American Folktales reminds us that stories not only move, entertain, and instruct but, more fundamentally, inspire and keep hope alive.

The Annotated African American Folktales includes:

  • Introductory essays, nearly 150 African American stories, and 20 seminal African tales as historical background
  • The familiar Brer Rabbit classics, as well as news-making vernacular tales from the 1890s' Southern Workman
  • An entire section of Caribbean and Latin American folktales that finally become incorporated into the canon
  • Approximately 200 full-color, museum-quality images

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780871407535
  • ISBN-10: 0871407531
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publish Date: November 2017
  • Page Count: 752
  • Dimensions: 10.1 x 8.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds

Series: Annotated Books

Related Categories

Books > Literary Collections > American - African American
Books > Social Science > Folklore & Mythology

 
BookPage Reviews

Best bets for the book obsessed

Get ready to wrap! We’ve assembled a stack of picks for the bibliophile on your shopping list. These outstanding anthologies and coffee table-worthy titles will give serious readers an extra reason to celebrate the season.

Check your bookshelves—you’re bound to own at least one volume with a cover designed by Chip Kidd. Maybe you’ve got David SedarisNaked, with its white boxers on the front. Or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which bears the image of T. Rex in silhouette. The associate art director at Alfred A. Knopf, Kidd has been producing mini-masterpieces like these for more than 30 years. His visionary designs, along with a wealth of sketches, mockups and ephemera, are beautifully presented in Chip Kidd: Book Two: Work: 2007-2017.

This big, bold collection—the follow-up to Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006—includes Kidd’s lively commentary on the creation of covers for Oliver Sacks, Jill Lepore, Haruki Murakami and other world-class authors. He observes, “no matter what form a book takes, its author wants the work to be visually represented—in as interesting and memorable a way as possible.” Kidd has turned this task into a fine art. Here’s to another 10 years.

THE GIFT OF VERSE
Providing sustenance for the season to come, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver is perfectly suited to the winter weeks that lie ahead and an excellent pick for the introspective literature lover. The poems in this exhilarating collection span five decades and were arranged by Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who often uses poetry to celebrate nature and to explore humankind’s place within it. Featuring more than 200 poems in a variety of forms and moods, this radiant survey showcases Oliver’s versatility as an artist. In “Flare,” from The Leaf and the Cloud (2000), she writes that a poem “wants to open itself, /like the door of a little temple, /so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed, /and less yourself than part of everything.” It’s a fitting description of what readers will experience when they dip into Devotions. This wide-­ranging collection is a wonderful introduction for those who aren’t familiar with Oliver and a great gift for readers who already love her.

SECRETS OF SUCCESS
Questions regarding the creative process are among those most often posed to eminent writers. When faced with a blank page (or screen), how does one begin to work? Is the act of composition ruled by logic or magic? Insights into these and other hair-tearing issues can be found in Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process.

Edited by Joe Fassler, Light the Dark brings together the best of his By Heart author interview series from The Atlantic. In this revealing anthology, Roxane Gay, Billy Collins, Viet Thanh Nguyen and others share craft-related anecdotes and excerpts from works they find most inspiring. Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Junot Díaz says, “altered my personal and creative DNA.” For Walter Mosley, reading Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye was a “one-two combination punch” that brought home to him the power of language. For artists in need of a creative fix, Light the Dark is as good as a visit from the divine muse. Well, almost.

TREASURED TALES
Illuminating the path that brought us to where we are now as a nation, The Annotated African American Folktales features almost 150 stories of African American lore, some famous, others obscure, all timeless and telling. Edited by Maria Tatar and Henry Louis Gates Jr., this meticulously assembled anthology brings together an astonishing range of ballads, myths, fairy tales and oral narratives, along with contextual essays and breathtaking imagery.

Featuring stories of the African shapeshifter Anansi, tales of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit, and legends of Creole and Caribbean lineage, this playful and profound volume will make readers re-evaluate traditional African literature. Selections from Zora Neale Hurston’s groundbreaking book of folktales, Mules and Men, are also included, along with contributions by notable folklorists such as Sterling A. Brown and William Owens. This is a landmark collection and a necessary addition to the study of America’s heritage.

(Remarkable Books photo from the British Library Board.)

BIBLIOPHILE’S DELIGHT
The title says it all: Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works showcases more than 75 archival gems, from ancient papyric manuscripts to Penguin’s first paperbacks. The works are arranged chronologically, giving readers a sense of how advances in book production have paralleled the progress of human thought.

In addition to groundbreakers such as the Gutenberg Bible and Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, readers will find literary rarities like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s handwritten draft of Le Petit Prince. Stunning photos provide an intimate look at illuminated manuscripts, detailed woodcuts and engravings, and examples of innovative typography while capturing the genius at play in each creation. Brimming with bibliological trivia, the volume is a stunning celebration of the book as both achievement and objet d’art. For the bibliophile, it doesn’t get any better than this.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews