Interpreting Sunjata: a comparative analysis and exegesis of the Malinke epic

Bulman, Stephen Paul Dušan (1990). Interpreting Sunjata: a comparative analysis and exegesis of the Malinke epic. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Thirty-five individual published versions of the Sunjata epic, collected or produced between the years c. 1889 and 1987 are analysed and compared. After an examination of each version's date, author, form and context, comparison is made on the basis of 157 story-elements into which the epic's plot is divided. Variation in the story over both space and time is gauged, and it is suggested that the story has remained relatively stable over the century. Various factors are highlighted to account for differences in the epic from one place to another and from one teller to another. Interpretations of the epic's major portions - the paternal and maternal Inheritance of the hero, his birth and childhood, his exile and return to Manding; the hero's rival, Sumanguru; the demise of Sumanguru and of Sunjata, and the expansion of Mall to the western seaboard - are advanced, employing a rigorous comparative analysis of the versions themselves, African and non-African analogues, the resources of historians and archaeologists of west Africa, folklorists, anthropologists of the Malinke and related ethnic groups, and psychologists, in order to ascertain the role of the story of Sunjata in traditional Malinke society, particularly as an expllcator of social actualities, psychological verities, and historical events.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
de Moraes Farias, Paulo FernandoUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: Centre of West African Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania


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