In Favor of Deceit
A Study of Tricksters in an Amazonian Society
Ellen Basso's new study of these stories considers their relationship to other kinds of Kalapalo activities involving deception and features a unique collection of South American Indian narratives translated directly from performances by master storytellers in their original Carib language. Combining an ethnopoetic, performance-focused approach to storytelling with an action-oriented psychology, Basso arrives at an ethnographic understanding of Kalapalo trickster myths and Kalapalo ideas about deception.
The commentary on the translations considers matters of theme, discourse, narrative progression, and performance context. The dialogical, interactive nature of Kalapalo storytelling, the development of characters through their conversations with one another, and the many ways storytelling and ordinary life enrich one another are examined to reveal the complex psychology of trickster myths and the special tricksterish quality of day-to-day Kalapalo behavior.
"Overall, Basso's In Favor of Deceit makes a major contribution on the oral literature of South American Indians. The original myths are engaging and sometimes hilarious, and her analysis is insightful." —Latin American Research Review
"The book is a treasure. . . . Basso's genius lies in her ability to bring forward the very process of storytelling as the element integral to the trickster dynamic." —Asian Folklore Studies
"A penetrating work: it will provide the reader with a good understanding of how a particular tribe interprets the world through their stories and their myths, and it presents original data taped and translated by the author. A challenging, important achievement!" —Bookwatch