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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Proppian Approach: Some Implications for African Tale Analysis
Author:Okoh, Nkem
Periodical:Africana Marburgensia
Geographic terms:Africa
folk tales
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Education and Oral Traditions
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Abstract:In tale scholarship the necessity of establishing appropriate units for the description and analysis of oral literature has long been recognized. The narrative units currently in use, such as theme and motif, are unsuitable as a tool for literary analysis. In this study, the author applies ideas borrowed from structuralism, notably from the work of Vladimir Jacovlevic Propp (1895-1970), the best known exponent of Russian literary formalism, and Alan Dundes, one of the leading members of Propp's 'school'. He illustrates the discussion with a corpus of Enuani Igbo tales collected from Delta State in Nigeria between 1978 and 1981. He subjects the Enuani tales to a structural analysis on the Propp/Dundes model and so reveals the recurrence of certain sequences of functions or motifemes. These can be constituted into distinct structural groups: lack/lack liquidated, deprivation/acquisition, interdiction/violation/consequence, and contract/breach of contract/consequence. Such basic and constant units may offer a scientific rather than intuitional or emotional basis for the classification of the large number of tales from various African narrative traditions. Bibliogr.