FF Communications No. 278 — publication date: December 2001

Moral Fictions. Tamil Folktales from Oral Tradition

by Stuart Blackburn

Is fantasy the defining element in fairy tales? This question is the starting point for Stuart Blackburn’s study of Tamil oral tales. Having collected over 300 tales, 100 of which are translated in this book, he concludes that although fantasy, and humour, are present, at the core of the tales lies a moral vision in which wrongdoing, especially physical cruelty, is punished. Only the second full-length study of Indian tales from oral tradition, this book places the Tamil tradition in an international context, describes the telling sessions and includes tellers’ interpretations of some tales.

Stuart Blackburn teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is the author of several books, including
Singing of birth and death: texts in performance, 1988, and
Inside the drama-house: Rama stories and shadow puppets in South India, 1996.
He is currently coordinating a research project on culture change in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

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