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Read e-book online African Myths of Origin (Penguin Classics) PDF

By Stephen Belcher

ISBN-10: 1101491876

ISBN-13: 9781101491874

Collecting quite a lot of conventional African myths, this compelling new assortment bargains stories of heroes struggling with powerful serpents and great birds, brutal kin clash and vengeance, and determined migrations throughout significant and alien lands. From impassioned descriptions of animal-creators to dramatic tales of groups compelled to escape vast crocodiles, all of the narratives came across the following problem origins - no matter if of the universe, peoples or households. jointly, they carry a kaleidoscopic photo of the wealthy and sundry oral traditions that experience formed the tradition and society of successive generations of Africans for hundreds of thousands of years, in the course of the lengthy fight to outlive and discover this huge and environmentally varied continent.

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Extra resources for African Myths of Origin (Penguin Classics)

Example text

And are we to forget, furthermore, the rapid growth, during the first year of extra-uterine life, of this wonderful head and brain? It is perfectly true that, because of the prematurity of our birth, we do not have as many stereotyped, key-tumbler responses as the other vertebrates, and that, having consequently a more open reflex structure than they, we are less rigidly patterned in our instincts, less conservative, dependable, and secure than the animals. But on the other hand, we do have this developed brain, which is three times as great in size as its nearest rival and has given us not only new knowledge (including that of our own inevitable death), but also a capacity to control and even to inhibit our responses.

1 Jung's idea of the "archetypes" is one of the leading theories, today, in the field of our subject. It is a development of the earlier theory of Adolf Bastian (1826-1905), who recognized, in the course of his extensive travels, the uniformity of what he termed the "elementary ideas" (Elementargedanke) of mankind. Remarking also, however, that in the various provinces of human culture these ideas are differently articulated and elaborated, he coined the term "ethnic ideas" (Völkergedanke) for the actual, local manifestations of the universal forms.

One day," he is said to have reported, "it was suddenly revealed to me that everything is Pure Spirit. The utensils of worship, the altar, the door frame—all Pure Spirit. Men, animals, and other living beings —all Pure Spirit. Then like a madman I began to shower flowers in all directions. " 8 Belief—or at least a game of belief—is the first step toward such a divine seizure. The chronicles of the saints abound in ac­ counts of their long ordeals of difficult practice, which preceded their moments of being carried away; and we have also the more T H E L E S S O N OF THE M A S K 25 spontaneous religious games and exercises of the folk (the amateurs) to illustrate for us the principle involved.

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African Myths of Origin (Penguin Classics) by Stephen Belcher


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