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Khan, M. (1950). Myths of Middle India: By Verrier Elwin. (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege. Oxford University Press. Pp. xvi + 532. Price 25 s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31:214-215.

(1950). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31:214-215

Myths of Middle India: By Verrier Elwin. (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege. Oxford University Press. Pp. xvi + 532. Price 25 s.)

Review by:
Masud Khan

In this book Dr. Elwin has detailed the oral literature of a very vast and complex cultural area, and has combed it with such thoroughness that the result is almost perplexing in its richness of yield. Material from nearly forty-two tribes has been collected, stretching from the Central Provinces to Western Orissa. The book is divided into four parts: Man and His Universe, The Natural World, Human Life and Human Institutions. Each myth or story is carefully related to its tribal setting and the geographical area. The chief merit of the book is, perhaps, in its authentic and lively translation of this oral literature into cold print and a foreign language. The problems surmounted here can hardly be over-estimated, because this oral literature is expressed in languages that are intimately interwoven with the psycho-physical habits, experiences, and peculiarities of these people—as is amply evidenced by the content of their myths. Dr. Elwin has at times preferred to retain the flavour and feel of the original idiom and metaphor even when it has made the translation entirely fantastic.

It is almost impossible to indicate the richness of the material contained: it ranges from the myths and stories about creation and the universe to those explaining tears and laughter. The functions and activities of the human body, the birth and existence of animals, the origin of religious institutions, magic, dance, etc., all are detailed as reflected in the phantasies of these people.

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