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Moroccan Folktales

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Folktales collected from Teuan, Al-Huceima, Taza, Fex, Marrakesh, and Tahanout. Drawing on stories he heard as a boy from female relatives. Jilali El Koudia presents a cross section of utterly bewitching narratives. Filled with ghouls and fools, kind magic and wicked, eternal bonds and earthly wishes, these are mesmerizing stories to be savored, studied, or simply treasure Folktales collected from Teuan, Al-Huceima, Taza, Fex, Marrakesh, and Tahanout. Drawing on stories he heard as a boy from female relatives. Jilali El Koudia presents a cross section of utterly bewitching narratives. Filled with ghouls and fools, kind magic and wicked, eternal bonds and earthly wishes, these are mesmerizing stories to be savored, studied, or simply treasured. Varied genres include anecdotes, legends, and animal fables, and some bear strong resemblance to European counterparts, for example Aamar and his Sister (Hansel and Gretel) and Nunja and the White Dove (Cinderella). All capture the heart of Morroco and the soul of its people. In an enlightening introduction. El Koudia mourns the loss of the teller of tales in the marketplace, and he makes it clear that storytelling, born of membory and oral tradition, could vanish in the face of mass and electronic media.


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Folktales collected from Teuan, Al-Huceima, Taza, Fex, Marrakesh, and Tahanout. Drawing on stories he heard as a boy from female relatives. Jilali El Koudia presents a cross section of utterly bewitching narratives. Filled with ghouls and fools, kind magic and wicked, eternal bonds and earthly wishes, these are mesmerizing stories to be savored, studied, or simply treasure Folktales collected from Teuan, Al-Huceima, Taza, Fex, Marrakesh, and Tahanout. Drawing on stories he heard as a boy from female relatives. Jilali El Koudia presents a cross section of utterly bewitching narratives. Filled with ghouls and fools, kind magic and wicked, eternal bonds and earthly wishes, these are mesmerizing stories to be savored, studied, or simply treasured. Varied genres include anecdotes, legends, and animal fables, and some bear strong resemblance to European counterparts, for example Aamar and his Sister (Hansel and Gretel) and Nunja and the White Dove (Cinderella). All capture the heart of Morroco and the soul of its people. In an enlightening introduction. El Koudia mourns the loss of the teller of tales in the marketplace, and he makes it clear that storytelling, born of membory and oral tradition, could vanish in the face of mass and electronic media.

30 review for Moroccan Folktales

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beth Roberts

    A pure, somewhat artless collection -- many details lead nowhere, many characters appear when convenient and then never appear again. But I have learned to beware ghouls when I get to Morocco, and to watch for brother-sister bonds.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Ferguson

    A good book, and amusing, but shows a lot of similarity to well-known Western tales.

  3. 4 out of 5

    C. Patrick G. Erker

    I love folk tales and read many of them. I'm on parental leave now so am reading more than usual. I had bought this book at Middle East Books on 18th Street in DC earlier in the year. It's a nicely packaged book, and I enjoyed the content from Hasan El-Shamy that helped contextualize the stories. All folktale books need an El-Shamy. The stories themselves didn't move me like others have. It's possible that they represent a relatively small sliver of Moroccan lore overall, since they are stories c I love folk tales and read many of them. I'm on parental leave now so am reading more than usual. I had bought this book at Middle East Books on 18th Street in DC earlier in the year. It's a nicely packaged book, and I enjoyed the content from Hasan El-Shamy that helped contextualize the stories. All folktale books need an El-Shamy. The stories themselves didn't move me like others have. It's possible that they represent a relatively small sliver of Moroccan lore overall, since they are stories collected by Jilali El Koudia from female family members. But the stories included here tend to be very repetitive, and also quite violent. The "so-what" was not always clear to me. Many stories went something like this: there was a man with several wives, each of whom bore him children. The wives competed with each other, and with the others' children. Some of the kids were sent off to forests, where they met ghouls, some of whom wanted to eat them, but others of whom protected them. Eventually, the kids come back and expose their step-mothers' treachery. The father, who sometimes is a sultan, sentences one of the wives to a violent death, and lives happily ever after with the rest. An actual story ("Three Women") ends this way: "Immediately, the man called his other two wives and made them confess. When they did, he condemned them to wear dogs' hides, to eat with dogs, and sleep outside. After some time, they were tied to a horse and dragged in front of everyone for a long distance until they died. Afterward, father, mother, and son lived happily ever after." I would not read these stories aloud to children who understand language. There is a lot of murder, child abuse, mutilation, and the occasional incest or suicide. My favorite story was easily "The Donkey Named Fritla," in which a peasant loses his donkey, and in trying to find it, constantly says the wrong thing, is corrected, but then finds out that the new saying is quite bad in the next context. And the story, unlike most others in the book, doesn't end with death (although he is beaten relentlessly by each subsequent party he encounters). My least favorite was perhaps "Hdiddan"; was the painting of a donkey with a murdered old man's brain really necessary? It's worth acknowledging that folk tales, fairy tales, and legends need to be read in context, and that it's unfair to apply Western modernity's sensibilities to stories from another time and another place. So while I didn't find the stories particularly enjoyable, that's not to say I'm dismissive of the value of them in instilling a set of norms and beliefs into those who hear them. I'm just not going to read them to my two-year-old. (Though I hope he listens to the recordings I made of them when he's old enough to responsibly digest them!) Our two-week-old is less lucky. :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Robison

    This is such an interesting collection. One has to remember to view it through the appropriate cultural lens and with that, it is entraining. Admittedly, some were strange tales but that is to be expected. Overall, I enjoyed it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Fresonke Harper

    Well written set of folktales that capture historical tales told in Morocco. They contain a rich variety of situations and a few that seem familiar.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    These were pretty fun and there were a few that I am just like 'full length adaptation now, thanks' These were pretty fun and there were a few that I am just like 'full length adaptation now, thanks'

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Yoder

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  9. 5 out of 5

    hazelwillow

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sallih Khalid

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Hamilton

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ave Maria

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allison Burris

  15. 4 out of 5

    Doria

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheimae Bre

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carina Cervera

  18. 4 out of 5

    Monique Imair

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aicha Aicha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Feliu Asolixent

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

  22. 4 out of 5

    Martha Celine I

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Liquegan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Noureddine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paris Granville

  27. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Vega

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Thielke Lesmeister

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann Keller

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tasneem

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