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Belcher's volume contains a much needed and extremely well-integrated overview and discussion of a vast inter-related West African culture complex that deserves and requires the kind of original, insightful treatment it receives here. -David Conrad Epic Traditions of Africa crosses boundaries of language, distance, and time to gather material from diverse African oral epic traditions. Stephen Belcher explores the rich past and poetic force of African epics and places them in historical and social, as well as artistic contexts. Colorful narratives from Central and West African traditions are illuminated along with texts that are more widely available to Western readers-the Mande Sunjata and the Bamana Segou. Belcher also takes up questions about European influences on African epic poetry and the possibility of mutual influence through out the genre. This lively and informative volume will inspire an appreciation for the distinctive qualities of this uniquely African form of verbal art.
Stephen BelcheR is co-editor (with John William Johnson and Thomas A. Hale) of Oral Epics from Africa: Vibrant Voices from a Vast Continent.