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How Strange the ChangeLanguage, Temporality, and Narrative Form in Peripheral Modernisms$
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Marc Caplan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804774765

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804774765.001.0001

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One Tale, Two Tellers

One Tale, Two Tellers

(p.52) Two One Tale, Two Tellers
How Strange the Change
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the structural and thematic similarity between Reb Nakhman's mayse aleph (“Tale the First”) and the “Complete Gentleman” episode from Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Although the two tales exhibit superficial disparities of cultural reference, they also share morphological similarities and direct correspondences that indicate a fundamental structural relationship between them. Despite sharing a common theme and drawing on similar folkloric devices, both Nakhman and Tutuola have modified the “logic” of the fairy tale to illustrate the newly unfixed, unsettled quality of life in their respective cultures at the onset of modernization. Nakhman equates evil with materialism, referring to the modern commercialization of Eastern European Jewish life that was casually associated with the emergence of haskole. Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a conscious representation of the consequences of colonialism on the African tradition.

Keywords:   Reb Nakhman, mayse aleph, Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, fairy tale, modernization, materialism, colonialism, haskole

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