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Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon: Himalayan Foothill Folktales

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Here are the twenty-one stories that Urmilaji told. On her instruction, I have divided the stories into two broad sets: tales associated with various women's rituals and tales for entertainment on long, cold winter nights. From the back cover: "Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only Here are the twenty-one stories that Urmilaji told. On her instruction, I have divided the stories into two broad sets: tales associated with various women's rituals and tales for entertainment on long, cold winter nights. From the back cover: "Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only stories, stripped of the human contexts in which they are told. In this innovative book, Indian-American anthropologist Kirin Narayan reproduced twenty-one folktales narrated in a mountain dialect by a middle-aged Indian village woman, Urmila Devi Sood, or "Urmilaji." In dialogue with Kirin Narayan, Urmilaji Sood supplements her tales with interpretations of the wisdom that she perceives in them. In turn, Kirin Narayan sets these tales within a larger story about the joys and ironies of undertaking research in a village that is also home to her American mother. These narratives serve as both moral instruction and as beguiling entertainment. As mass-media floods across rural India, Urmilaji Sood reaffirms the value of tales that have been told and retold across generations. As she says, "Television can't teach you these things!" The first set of tales celebrate women's ritual powers: a washerwoman who brings the dead to life, a female weevil who observes fasts for a better rebirth, and a queen whose worship transforms mud into gold. The second set of tales describe the adventures of such characters as a princess married to a lion and a boy who God splits into two selves. Set evocatively amid the changing seasons in a Himalayan foothill village, the pathbreaking book draws a moving portrait of an accomplished woman storyteller. Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon offers a window into changing rural India and explores the significance of oral storytelling in nurturing human ties."


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Here are the twenty-one stories that Urmilaji told. On her instruction, I have divided the stories into two broad sets: tales associated with various women's rituals and tales for entertainment on long, cold winter nights. From the back cover: "Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only Here are the twenty-one stories that Urmilaji told. On her instruction, I have divided the stories into two broad sets: tales associated with various women's rituals and tales for entertainment on long, cold winter nights. From the back cover: "Oral tales establish relationships between storytellers and their listeners. Yet most printed collections of folktales contain only stories, stripped of the human contexts in which they are told. In this innovative book, Indian-American anthropologist Kirin Narayan reproduced twenty-one folktales narrated in a mountain dialect by a middle-aged Indian village woman, Urmila Devi Sood, or "Urmilaji." In dialogue with Kirin Narayan, Urmilaji Sood supplements her tales with interpretations of the wisdom that she perceives in them. In turn, Kirin Narayan sets these tales within a larger story about the joys and ironies of undertaking research in a village that is also home to her American mother. These narratives serve as both moral instruction and as beguiling entertainment. As mass-media floods across rural India, Urmilaji Sood reaffirms the value of tales that have been told and retold across generations. As she says, "Television can't teach you these things!" The first set of tales celebrate women's ritual powers: a washerwoman who brings the dead to life, a female weevil who observes fasts for a better rebirth, and a queen whose worship transforms mud into gold. The second set of tales describe the adventures of such characters as a princess married to a lion and a boy who God splits into two selves. Set evocatively amid the changing seasons in a Himalayan foothill village, the pathbreaking book draws a moving portrait of an accomplished woman storyteller. Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon offers a window into changing rural India and explores the significance of oral storytelling in nurturing human ties."

30 review for Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon: Himalayan Foothill Folktales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jieun Kim

    I came to know of Narayan and her books from the summer course, Narrative Inquiry this year and noticed she evoked certain feelings and memories of my childhood entangled with my family and neighborhood, which makes me wonder about untold stories that were deeply embedded in my identities. Balancing the relationship with Urmalaji and listening to their song, folktale and stories, Narayan draws on the value of silenced voices of women in different societies and makes an attempt to see "gender iss I came to know of Narayan and her books from the summer course, Narrative Inquiry this year and noticed she evoked certain feelings and memories of my childhood entangled with my family and neighborhood, which makes me wonder about untold stories that were deeply embedded in my identities. Balancing the relationship with Urmalaji and listening to their song, folktale and stories, Narayan draws on the value of silenced voices of women in different societies and makes an attempt to see "gender issues" through the intersectionality with other relations of power, gender, class, and so forth. I couldn't help but reading her book as reflecting what she writes: "Her time was at least partially structured by the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rituals that would please assorted deities and contribute to the well-being of her family."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was an assigned reading that I really enjoyed. It is a collection of folktales from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India as told to an anthropologist (Kirin Narayan) by a local village woman (Urmila Devi Sood, or "Urmalaji" as Narayan calls her). These stories range from old wives' tales about village life, to fairytale-like legends, to tales of treachery and scandal. They are entertaining but at the same time impart a lot of information on complex subjects such as the interactions between caste This was an assigned reading that I really enjoyed. It is a collection of folktales from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India as told to an anthropologist (Kirin Narayan) by a local village woman (Urmila Devi Sood, or "Urmalaji" as Narayan calls her). These stories range from old wives' tales about village life, to fairytale-like legends, to tales of treachery and scandal. They are entertaining but at the same time impart a lot of information on complex subjects such as the interactions between caste, class, karma, and fate and women's roles including their responsibility for upholding izzat, or family honor.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Stout

    This was a fairly well written book. The stories were AMAZING, but I really didn't appreciate all of the focus the author placed upon himself. It is a compendium of folk tales! Let the stories speak for themselves as far as I'm concerned. Still, the folklore is fantastic. This was a fairly well written book. The stories were AMAZING, but I really didn't appreciate all of the focus the author placed upon himself. It is a compendium of folk tales! Let the stories speak for themselves as far as I'm concerned. Still, the folklore is fantastic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A fun collection of folktales as shared through oral tradition with the author.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brontë Christopher

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chad Curry

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean Patrick Keane

  8. 5 out of 5

    Micaela

  9. 4 out of 5

    Celia

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ana

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marc

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bonniepianogirl

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  17. 5 out of 5

    René Cubias

  18. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Bell

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Odegard

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Sandefer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mariana

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cory Driver

  23. 5 out of 5

    Durga Kale

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samina Asfandiyar

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Schott

  26. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

  27. 5 out of 5

    Squirrel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Flippinggoat

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Tolentino

  30. 5 out of 5

    Calyn

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