This is a broad collection of African myths, but it's focus is really on representing the myths from as much of the continent as possible rather thanThis is a broad collection of African myths, but it's focus is really on representing the myths from as much of the continent as possible rather than presenting any given myth in the best literary form. It's enjoyable as an overall survey and comparison of the different stories that are told throughout Africa, but it's not the greatest source of well told myths.
It does however serve as an excellent resource for anyone interested in the subject, both by providing enough information to give a strong sense of the framework, and with excellent recommendations for further reading on any given subject....more
2/6/15 - Finished Volume 1 (of 4). This is a fascinating mythic journey so far. This first volume is almost more of a prologue, for those wondering ho2/6/15 - Finished Volume 1 (of 4). This is a fascinating mythic journey so far. This first volume is almost more of a prologue, for those wondering how much of a journey this is going to turn out to be, out of 25 chapters, the first 7 make up the origin story of Monkey, and the next five of the monk Sanzang who at least so far appears to be the actual hero of the story, journeying to the west to receive the scriptures from the Buddha and bring them back to the Tang Emperor.
I would love to read some works on comparative literature looking at this and some western works such as the Iliad, and Dante. There's an amazing journey through the underworld, and some really funny trouble-making by Monkey and the other disciples Sanzang picks up along the way. Volume 1 ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, I'm looking forward to seeing where Volume 2 takes me.
2/24/15 - Finished Volume 2. I'm about halfway through, and not tired of the story yet. I'm starting to get a better feel for the humor, much of which comes from the character of Pig, his laziness, and his conflicts with Monkey. It's fascinating to see how the story manages to come up with varieties of challenges for the travelers to face, though there is a persistent theme of monsters catching Sanzang, and planning to eat him once they've finished dealing with his angry disciples. The editor has done a pretty effective job of ending each volume on a bit of a cliffhanger, which helps the reader maintain their momentum going forward.
3/29/15 - Finished Volume 3. This is the volume where the threats and challenges have gotten weirder than just a strong opponent who Monkey has to defeat. There are more enemies where Monkey has to explicitly call for significant assistance, and there are conflicts that are more complicated than the standard "fighting for 40 or 50 rounds" cycle. Once again, this volume ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
4/28/15 - Finished Volume 4. Sanzang's journey to the west took 14 years, mine took 4 months. It was totally worth it. This is an amazing epic. Weird, and silly, with a structure that is clearly built up from the oral tradition from which it originated. I know there's an abridged version in English that's been published by a more mainstream publisher, and I'd like to check it out sometime to see how the translation differs, but the sheer bulk of this complete edition lent it an immersive quality that strengthened the impact of the story. ...more