The Black Cloth
Release Date:16 Mar 1987
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The Black Cloth

A Collection of African Folktales

By Bernard Binlin Dadie; Translated by Karen C. Hatch; Introduction by Es'kia Mphahlele
University of Massachusetts Press
First published in France as Le Pagne Noir: Contes Africains in 1955. The writing of such chronicles of an African childhood was the author's way of coming to terms with the questions every sensitive colonized person educated in the Western tradition would sooner or later have to ask: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? While giving poetic and fictional expression to the tensions of independence and the events that led to it, the writer realized that he would at the same time have to rediscover his oral tradition. It was a natural development of what the new African poetry and drama in French, English, and, later, Portuguese, were already doing--probing the inner mysteries of indigenous mythology and symbolism. Only in this way could the enlightened African restore a sense of equilibrium in his people's culture. From the foreword by Es'kia Mphahlele, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
These sixteen stories, an exquisite fusion of entertainment and ethics, demonstrate the sophisticated taste for song, epic, pun, riddle, and satire of African people south of the Sahara.'—New York Times Book Review
'Now in his 70s, Dadie has been honored as a poet, novelist, critic, and statesman in his native Ivory Coast. In this book--originally published in France in 1955--he renders an oral tradition in lively, mellifluous and vigorous prose. The exotic elements--iguanas, crocodiles, panthers--add spice to forms familiar in European folktales: how the pig got its snout; the persecuted stepchild or orphan; the fish on the hook that promises riches if it is spared; the wily, boastful trickster who ensnares himself as often as others. The tales seem to speak directly to the reader.'—Publishers Weekly
'The tales of this satisfying collection are full of humor and inventiveness, patience and wisdom. They are told in flowing, resonant, rhythmical language that lovingly mirrors the world it depicts. The book, with its grainy beige covers, black endpapers, and prints of African textile designs, is a pleasure to hold an a delight to read.'—Parabola
Bernard Binlin Dadie is a novelist, playwright, and poet.
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