|John Minton & David Evans:
“The Coon in the Box”: A Global Folktale in African-American Context. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia Scientiarum Fennica). 2001. 112 pp.
ISBN 951-41-0895-7 (hardback)
12 euros (hardback)
|Among the most popular of all African-American folktales is the story folklorists know as “The Coon in the Box”, itself a derivative of the extremely old and widespread narrative usually identified, after the Brothers Grimm, as “Doctor Know-All” (Doktor Allwissend) (AaTh 1641). Not coincidentally, this item has served as a centerpiece in the debate over the sources of New World black folktales. A detailed analysis of “The Coon in the Box”, its life history and cultural context thus reveals a great deal not only of the nature of African-American oral narratives in and of themselves, but also of the challenges confronting scholars in investigating the origins, diffusion, and development of these traditions.
JOHN MINTON is Associate Professor of Folklore at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, having completed his Ph.D. in Folklore at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to numerous articles on American folk music and song, he is the author of Big ‘Fraid and Little ‘Fraid: An Afro-American Folktale (FF Communications No. 253. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1993).
DAVID EVANS is Professor of Music at the University of Memphis. He completed his Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology at the University of California Los Angeles. The author of Tommy Johnson (London: Studio Vista, 1971) and Big Road Blues: Tradition and Creativity in the Folk Blues (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), he is currently also the General Editor of the American Made Music Series of the University Press of Mississippi.