Saturday, August 10, 2019

Reading Notes: Week 2 Anthology. Tiger, Brahman, and Jackal

Of course I knew right away which Anthology story I want to retell: Tiger, Brahman, and Jackal! This is one of my favorite folktales of all time.

It is popular in India, and the version in the Anthology is from Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, with a detailed note from Jacobs here about different versions. It is also found in Europe, in Africa ... and in the Brer Rabbit story tradition of the American South.

So, that is what I will want to do my story on, combining different versions of the story in order to come up with my own take on the Brer Rabbit version.

From Jacobs, I found my way to this dissertation in German: Mann und Fuchs by Kaarle Krohn, online at Hathi Trust. See his bibliography. (Unfortunately, he does not have any comparative tables to help compare motifs across stories.)

The Brer Rabbit version is Brer Wolf Under a Rock

(illustration by Milo Winter)

In that story, Rabbit foolishly lets Wolf out, and it is the wise Terrapin (Turtle) who plays the role of the jackal in getting the wolf back under the rock. A big difference is that this story does not feature the judges who are consulted first, so I would like to retell the Brer Rabbit version, but with the judges, like in the Indian version of the story. In some Indian versions, there are even more judges, like here in this version by Faulkner with six judges: The Brahmin and the Tiger.

(illustration by Frederick Richardson)

For example, the camel is one of the judges:

(illustration by Frederick Richardson)

So in my version, I would like to go to different judges from the world of Brer Rabbit: Sis Cow could be one, and for a tree it could be the persimmon tree, and maybe the Possum who does such a good job of eating ticks but nobody thanks him for it!

As for African versions, Klipple has 48 versions from Africa! They are under Type 155: Ungrateful Serpent Returned to Captivity, pp. 79-92. This is my first time trying to match up Klipple's index to the stories I bookmarked this summer; let's see how successful I will be finding her English-language versions:
Brown: Baboon, Snake, and Hare (Bantu Nomads: on my bookshelf)
Doke: Mr. Wart-Hog and Mr. Lion (Lamba Folklore: on my bookshelf)
Macdonald: Crocodile
Westermann: Monkey and Lion
There are so many French and German versions too, but I am missing only a few of the English versions that are not yet in the public domain.

Here is Klipple's conclusion: "In 35 of the 48 versions, a judge lures the ungrateful character back to his former place by pretending either that he regards the situation as impossible or that he does not understand the case. In ten versions there are more than one judge. In eight of these the first judge or judges agree that the rescued individual has a right to devour the rescuer, because ingratitude is the reward of the world; then the final judge aids the rescuer. In the ninth vresion the first judge refuses to make a decision. In the tenth version, the lion sends the rescued snake and his rescuer to the leopard; the leopard sends them to the boar; the boar sends them to the hyena; the hyena sends them to the jackal. Before the jackal will judge the case he requires the snake to come down from the man's head then suggests that the man kill the snake."

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