Deep Down in the Jungle ...: Negro Narrative Folklore from the Streets of Philadelphia

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Aldine Publishing Company, 1970 - Social Science - 278 pages
With the growth of interest in folklore, it becomes increasingly evident that the presentation of a collection needs some rationale more than the fact that traditional materials have been collected and properly annotated. Much has been gathered and is now accessible through journals, archives, and lists. If a corpus of lore is not presented in some way, which bears new light on the process of word-of-mouth transmission, on traditional forms or expressions, or on the group among whom the lore was encountered, there is little reason to present it to the public. This work represents an attempt to present a body of folklore collected among one small group of Black Americans in a neighborhood in South Philadelphia. The author's approach toward collection and presentation has been intensive. He has tried to collect "in depth," and to recreate in his presentation the social background in which the lore was found, and to relate the lore with the life and the values of the group. Abraham's work is a departure from any past methods of analyzing folklore, and therefore a description of the author's point of view and his method will be given first. The majority of this work was written before his methodology was actually formulated. However throughout the project û the object was to illuminate as fully as possible the lore of one small group of African Americans from urban Philadelphia. The methodology, which developed, did so because of this objective more than anything else. Though the formulation of this theory may seem ex post facto, it is included because it clarified much during the rewritings of this book, and more importantly, because it will clarify many matters for the lay reader and for the professional folklorist.

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About the author (1970)

Roger David Abrahams was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 12, 1933. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Swarthmore College in 1955, a master's degree in literature and folklore from Columbia University in 1959, and a doctorate in literature and folklore from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. He sang with Paul Clayton and Dave Van Ronk on the Folkways album Foc'sle Songs and Shanties and later recorded his own album, Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor and Other Folk Songs, in 1962. He was an editor and writer at the folk-music magazine Caravan. He taught at the University of Texas in Austin before teaching at the University of Pennsylvania from 1985 until his retirement in 2002. He was one of the first folklorists to study the language and performance styles of black Americans as reflected in songs, proverbs, and riddles both old and new. He wrote several books including Deep Down in the Jungle: Negro Narrative Folklore from the Streets of Philadelphia; Jump-Rope Rhymes: A Dictionary; Positively Black; Talking Black; Afro-American Folk Culture: An Annotated Bibliography of Materials from North, Central and South America, and the West Indies; Counting-Out Rhymes: A Dictionary; Between the Living and the Dead: Riddles Which Tell Stories; The Man-of-Words in the West Indies: Performance and the Emergence of Creole Culture; Singing the Master: The Emergence of African-American Culture in the Plantation South; and Everyday Life: A Poetics of Vernacular Practices. With John F. Szwed, he wrote Discovering Afro-America and Blues for New Orleans: Mardi Gras and America's Creole Soul. He died on June 20, 2017 at the age of 84.

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