Folklore is a very difficult subject to write a book on within a given limit, and on a given plain-especially when it concerns a complex culture like the Bengali. Moreover, its study covers a wide range of different subjects of diverse nature sometimes absolutely not related to each other like physical anthropology and myths, primitive psychology and ethnomusicology and so on.
This is the age of specialization and that too not in one subject but in one particular aspect of a subject. The more limited the subject, the greater the depth of scholarship show. It is therefore difficult for an individual author to write on a subject like this with full justice.
I have been a teacher of literature all my life. But in the midst of it, I chose to do some research work in anthroplogy. I joined the Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India, and worked there for a period of more than eight years. First as a Research Associate in Primitive Religion and Folk-Culture and subsequently as an Assistant Anthropologist in Social Anthropology. I have had the rare opportunity to work during that period both in the field and in the office directly under an outstanding folklorist of the age, the late Dr Verrier Elwin, then Deputy Director of the Survey.
I do not feel for a moment that this experience, however rare, has given me any competence to accept the offer to write a book on this subject, but it has certainly given me the competence to realize the practical difficulty of undertaking such a responsibility. Therefore, I have written this book with full consciousness of my limitations.
Folklore of Bengal provides a holistic account of rich and assorted tradition of folk art, oral literature, myths and mythology, religion and magic, fairs and festivals, customs and social milieu of the province. Samples of folk songs, folk tales and riddles add value to the book, which has been thoroughly revised by Srirang Jha.
Asutosh Bhattacharya was an ardent scholar of Folklore. He served as Professor of Bengali and Head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Calcutta University. He authored more than seventy books on various aspect of Bengali culture.
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