I am extremely happy to be associated with this book, based on work in an area that is yet to become popular in academic. The simple lucid style of presentation by the author does not belie in any way the complex shades suggested by folk tales and their renovation by modern writers. Not only are the tales nostalgic but they also point to the markers by which communities within socio cultural matrices view the world and its inhabitants. The deftness of the recreations add new life to the ancient tales. They also infuse with colour the varied life of Bengal.
For the discipline of anthropology, folk tales is an important contributor as it highlights the not-so-overt expressions of cultures and angularities of personalities. Folk tales have scope of being dealt with at subjective levels without the rigorous trappings of objectivity. Folk tales permit a distancing from events that could be dangerous or disturbing in many ways. They also have a cathartic effect through vicarious identification with the experiences of the character. Folk tales represent the possible range of experiences of the character. Folk tales represent the possible range of experiences that an individual as a adult may expect to encounter and these tales through allegories and similes try to recreate the same.
The telling of folk tales plays an important role in socialization, as a medium through which tradition is handed down from one generation to the next. The stories link the ages while the alternations and renovations point to the changes.
This book will be enjoyed by those who may not have read the original stories. I am sure that this book will appeal to a variety of readers.
I have worked in the Anthropological Survey of India during the period from 10th September, ’99 to 10th August, 2000. I am glad grateful to the Anthropological Survey of India for providing me with a fellowship that enabled me to study the books on folklore in the immensely rich collection in the Head Office. I am very grateful to the Director, Dr. Ranjit Kumar Bhattacharya, Dr. Satyabrata Chakrabarti, Head of Office, Eastern Regional Centre and Prof. Kum Kum Bhattacharya of Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan for their constant help and support. Dr. Tushar Kanti Niyogi provided guidance throughout my project. Mr. Shyamal Nandy’s comments and proofreading also helped me to revise my papers. The library staff provided invaluable support by locating materials difficult to find. Also lastly, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues, Subhra Dey, Ananya Bandapadhyaya, Indrani Mukhopadhyaya and Swarup Bandopadhyaya, whose constant encouragement and kindness helped to make my stay in this office a very enjoyable experience.
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