Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster

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Jewish Publication Society, Jan 1, 2010 - Fiction - 297 pages
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"Joha has Janus's double face: On the one hand, he is innocent and stupid; on the other, a trickster. He is a cheater and is cheated. He sets traps for others and falls into traps himself; he is simpleton and liar, victimizer and victim. But as a literary figure he never dies. The nearly 300 stories in this lovely volume are from Sephardic oral literature and ethnic culture. They were told to Matilda Kon-Sarano in their original language, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), and documented over 21 years. From 17 countries, including the United States, they come together in this first-ever collection of Joha stories to appear in English. Known in some places as Ladino, Judeo-Spanish is a living remnant of the Spanish spoken by the Spanish Jews at the end of the 15th century. Matilda Kon-Sarano, born to a Sephardic family, has devoted her life to the conservation and revitalization of this language, culture, and heritage. Joha, according to Ladino tradition, is a popular folklore character, one who is conniving yet also beguiling. He plays many roles: He makes us laugh; liberates us from taboos; makes it possible to tell the whole, sometimes painful, truth in a humorous way; and helps us triumph over our enemies through laughter. These stories have entertained generations of Sephardic children and adults and will delight readers of any age."
 

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Contents

Preface
1
Introduction by Tamar Alexander
5
The Myth of Laughter
17
Joha and his family
21
Joha at school
35
Joha and work
45
Joha and the animals
69
Joha and the bride
85
Joha and his neighborhood
157
Joha talks about himself
173
Joha and the God
191
Joha and the law
207
Joha the glutton
233
Joha in the hospital
257
Joha and death
267
The Ladies of Ladino
279

Joha and his wife
101
Joha son and grandson
129
Joha and the king
137
Informants
282
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