No. 10 (2010): Lost in a Forest of Symbols: Can Some Animal, Bird, Tree or Djinn Help us Understand Myth and Folklore? - By Alok Bhalla

This paper is an attempt to investigate the structure of a folktale and to give to each of the three structural sites that almost always constitute its narrative their distinctive emotional, moral and social qualities. Further, its three structural spaces are chronologically arranged. I should like to term the first spatial and temporal order, which exists “somewhere in the country beyond the river...” and “once upon a time,” as the site of sorrow or the structure of curse. Here time is frozen and human beings are paralyzed. The second structural element, which is at the heart of every folktale, can be called the artifice of enchantment. Its boundaries are fluid, forest-covered or unmapped. And time is either a succession of instances or an eternity depending on who is recording or who is suffering. I should like to call the third structural element of the folktale as the site of renewal of energies or the structure of communitas. It emerges from the realm of enchantment and restores human community. People begin to participate in historical and secular time again but live as if their moments of recovered joy are at one with eternity.

Published: 2010-12-01