Thursday, November 27, 2008

"The Boy Who Snared The Sun" by William T. Larned

Source: LibriVox (MP3)
Length: 15 min
Reader: Chip

The story: This story, taken from the larger collection American Indian Fairy Tales, is from the Ojibwa (Chippawa) tradition. The stories of this book were collected in the 1820s by the geologist and ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft while he was Indian Agent assigned to the Ojibwa tribe. About 100 years later, William T. Larned rewrote the stories and placed them in the framework of an old Indian storyteller imparting the tales to a young Indian boy and his sister. This particular story concerns the doormouse and how he came to be so small after having once been the largest of all animals.

This folktale has two opposite examples of a reversal motif. The titular boy who snares the sun is the weak triumphing over the strong, while the giant doormouse becoming small is the strong becoming weak. These motifs reoccur in literature throughout the world, from Horatio Alger stories to Greek tragedy. The repetition of these two opposing trajectories, one up and one down, suggests that change may not always for the better, but at least it's more interesting than staying the same.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Chip has the voice of a natural storyteller; he is well suited to this folktale. His professional-quality baritone squeezes every drop of drama out of the narrative. The recording has a bit of a hiss on the "S" and "K" sounds, but this is easily overlooked because of the quality of the reader. The story and storyteller make me feel as if I had just curled up next to a roaring campfire to hear a great yarn-spinner work his craft.

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