books! books! books!

Some juicy, some esoteric, some academic books on performance, myth, meaning, mythopoetics and storytelling. Expand the ‘to read’ pile on your bedside table or expand your mind…or a little bit of both!

ON ORALITY AND ON THE CULTURAL STATUS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF ORAL STORIES, STORYTELLERS AND STORYTELLING...

Technicians of the Sacred

An utterly inspiring anthology of world-wide oral poetry and narrative

Rothenberg, Jerome (editor). USA, University of California Press, 1992.

Symposium of the Whole: A Range of Discourse toward an Ethnopoetics

A strikingly diverse anthology of essays and quotes offering a multitude of perspectives on orality , art and the communication of meaning.

Rothenberg, Jerome (editor). USA, University of California Press, 1983. 

The Other Side of Eden

An anthropologist’s gripping meditation on the tension between hunter gatherer societies and agricultural/urban societies. A book that should haunt you for ages.

Brody, Hugh. UK, Faber & Faber, 2002. ISBN: 0-571-20502-X.

Orality and Literacy

A groundbreaking enquiry into the consequences of literacy on minds previously shaped by orality.

One, Walter J.  UK, Routledge, 2002. ISBN: 0-415-28129-6 

The Growth of Literature (3 Volumes)

Way ahead of its time, this massive academic work shows how complex oral narratives were first captured in writing and thus shaped the development of literature.

Chadwick, N and Munro, H. UK, Cambridge University Press, 1934.

The Singer of Tales

The groundbreaking study of how epic was passed on by improvisation rather than rote memorisation.

Lord, Albert and Parry, Milman. 

A Story as Sharp as a Knife: Masterworks of the Classical Haida Mythtellers.

Perhaps the clearest work about the cultural status of oral tradition and the artistry of storytellers.

Bringhurst, Robert.  (vol 1) Douglas & McIntyre, 2001.

ON FINDING MEANINGS IN TRADITIONAL NARRATIVES

The King and the Corpse, Tales of the Souls Conquest of Evil.

The best introduction to C G Jung’s approach to finding meaning in story.

Zimmer, Heinrich. The King and the Corpse, Tales of the Souls Conquest of Evil. USA, Princeton University Press, 1973. ISBN: 0-691-01776-X

Peasants tell tales: The Meaning of Mother Goose (Essay),The Great Cat Massacre, and other Episodes in French Cultural History.

A salutary reading of fairytales from a Marxist perspective.

Darnton, Robert. UK, Penguin, 2001. ISBN: 0-14- 139080-8

The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth.

A cross-cultural academic exploration of the tension between the secular and the sacred in traditional narratives and the occasions for their telling.

Doniger, Wendy. USA, Columbia University Press, 1998. 

What the Bee Knows: Reflections on Myth, Symbol and Story. UK,

A superb anthology of enquiring essays by the author of Mary Poppins, exploring how myth and fairytale can support a quest for meaning.

Travers, P.L. UK, Arkana Penguin, 1993. ISBN: 0-14-019466-5

The Voice that Thunders

A superb anthology of sharp essays exploring the enduring need to navigate a human path through the cosmos.

Garner, Alan. UK, Harvill, 1999. ISBN: 1-86046-332-0 A

Winter Pollen: Occasional Prose

A superb anthology of enquiring essays exploring the perennial  quest to find meaning in poetry and myth.

Hughes, Ted. UK, Faber & Faber, 1995. ISBN: 0-571- 17426-4

STORYTELLING AS PERFORMANCE

Conference of the Birds: the Story of Peter Brook in Africa.

An epic experiment to understand the essence of storytelling and performance across cultures

Heilpern, John. Conference of the Birds: the Story of Peter Brook in Africa. 1989. 

Rasa - performing the Divine in India.

An accessible introduction to Rasa theory

Schwartz, Susan L.  USA, Columbia University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-231-13145-3

CHILDREN’S ORAL TRADITION

The Language and Lore of School Children.

The classic study of post war oral culture in British playgrounds

Opie I and Opie P. Oxford. 

THE POLITICS OF STORYTELLING

The Storyteller (Essay), Illuminations.

A classic and provocative essay about the demotic nature of popular storytelling.

Benjamin, Walter. Jonathan Cape, 1970.

SURVEYS OF THE CONTEMPORARY STORYTELLING AND THE STORYTELLING REVIVAL

Story

Based on extensive story collecting in Southern Africa, this is a key account of the vitality of oral storytelling in the contemporary world.

Scheub, Harold, University of Wisconsin Press 1998  

The World of Storytelling

An excellent and accessible overview of global storytelling traditions and techniques.

Pellowski, Anne.  (Expanded and Revised edition). USA, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1990. ISBN 0-8242-0788-2