Tricksters, African American folklorists, and literary scholars epitomized the means by which enslaved Africans and their descendants outwitted their “masters,” people of European descent who are associated with the epic. The archetypal divide (African/American tricksters versus European/American heroes) notwithstanding, the bedrock principle drawn from trickster lore holds that slave-tricksters double as “trickster-heroes” who outwitted the powerful masters. But if the master could also be—or uses the ways of—a trickster, is this true? This article, based on an introduction and analysis of three traditional African epic performances, finds that epic heroes already apprehend and deploy trickster strategies. These “epic tricksters,” spanning the folkoric spectrum from trickster to epic hero, fundamentally challenge the existing trickster paradigm. Although it is a type not subject to or trumped by the wit of tricksters proper, the epic trickster, study shows, is diffused by an eco-cautionary aesthetics contained within African epic performance lore.
Rutledge, Gregory E.
"Exploring an Archetypal Divide: Epics, Tricksters, Epic Tricksters,"
Storytelling, Self, Society: Vol. 13:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/storytelling/vol13/iss1/1