First review

from Press News, posted 03/19/2013 - 12:34

Congratulations to Eva-Maria Knoll of the Austrian Academy of Sciences for writing the first published review of Folk Tales of the Maldives by Xavier Romero-Frias. This was recently posted for the Journal of Folklore Research with the full review here but an abridged version follows.

Dr Knoll writes:

There is little that compares with how oral tradition is able to reveal linkages between past and present and between a culture’s knowledge and its environment. The volume discussed here can be seen as a particularly fine piece in this regard. …

The strength of [t]his publication lies in a comprehensive introduction into Maldivian literary genres, oral traditions, and lifestyles that allows the reader to put the following folktales into a broader cultural context. … Beyond this valuable background information Folk Tales of the Maldives is of particular significance in three regards. First, it is the first comprehensive collection of Maldivian short stories and legends. Second, this treasure of a centuries-old tradition of storytelling is made accessible to a wider audience in English. Third, Romero-Frias provides a first attempt at classifying Maldivian folktales by suggesting six categories. …

[T]he collection of well written folktales accompanied by the author’s charming illustrations is generally convincing and a pleasurable and profitable read. … Together with the comprehensive introduction, the illustrative footnotes and the useful glossary and index make this volume highly recommendable for scholarly work.

Of course, as an anthropologist (and writing for a scholarly journal), Dr Knoll focuses on the volume’s academic value rather than its more general appeal. For instance, the book will also be of interest to tourists attracted by images like this.

Huvadu Atoll © Nils Finn Munch-Pedersen

However, she adds:

The author dedicates the book both to travelers who would like to gain insights into Maldivian culture and history and to scholars such as folklorists, anthropologists, linguists, and Islamic scholars. I would further recommend this publication to scholars with research interests in South Asia, the Indian Ocean, island and maritime studies, and—since the Maldivian art of storytelling is on the decline—the volume might also be of value to the inhabitants of the archipelago.



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