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The Tar BabyA Global History$
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Bryan Wagner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172637

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172637.001.0001

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Epilogue

Epilogue

Chapter:
(p.114) Epilogue
Source:
The Tar Baby
Author(s):

Bryan Wagner

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691172637.003.0006

This concluding chapter considers the tar baby story as the most celebrated, the most thickly documented, and the most historiographically significant case in the global trickster tradition. The established ethnographic approach to the tar baby has led people to misconstrue the ways in which the story seeks to resolve the problems it sets before them. Restored to its full range, the tar baby presents nothing less than a comprehensive philosophy of world history. The tar baby story shares both substantive concerns and narrative conventions with formative passages in natural law where labor is mixed with nature or an incorrigible rascal commits an unforgivable crime. When the tar baby is read this way, one of the things that becomes apparent is the story's capacious flexibility.

Keywords:   tar baby story, trickster tradition, world history, natural law, labor, nature, ethnographic approach

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