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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Verse Types in Manding Epics
Author:Zavjalova, Olga Ju
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:West Africa
Mandinka language
epics (form)
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The epos of the Manding of West Africa is represented by both single epic songs, such as the Sunjata epic, and cycles, such as the Bamana Segu cycle. Each epic is composed of episodes which are, in turn, composed of verses. The verses can be divided into three types: plotline verses, which render the main epic information; commentary verses, which digress from the main plotline and most often contain the griot's reasonings and reflections on the plotline verses; and extrinsic verses, which belong to the common epic stock and which include praise songs, town mottoes and magic verses. Each type of verse has various functions in the epos, of which one is principal. They are performed in different modes: a patter mode, a narrative mode, a measured performance where a verse is divided by a caesura into two opposed parts, and a song mode. The author analyses each type of verse separately, and then considers devices used in the organization of epics, notably reiteration, which can be phonetic, lexical, or syntactic in nature, and penetrating, grouped, or circular in structure. The tense in the epic tradition is either past or present, never future. Bibliogr., notes.