Saturday, June 23, 2018

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet

Stanley Coutinho reviews "Never Marry A Woman With Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from Around the World" by Mineke Schipper for Free Press Journal

The collection and study of proverbs is found as far back in history as the Sumerians, and later the Greeks and the Romans; let us not forget that the Bible brimming as it is with proverbs of various kinds, also has a Book of Proverbs; ancient Indian literature is a veritable treasure trove of wisdom – from, at least, the times of Vikramaditya (recall the wife of Varahamihir) and Thiruvalluvar. In the west, the names of Erasmus of Rotterdam with his Adagia and Otto Moll’s International Sprichwört Bibliographie stand out as the major works in compiling and commenting on proverbs handed down through the ages.

If we look back at how it all began, says Schipper, we find that sex and gender issues have been expressed in oral traditions…Such oral ‘wisdom’ represents a fascinating cultural history, and proverbs are a most telling part of that serial narrative. Based, therefore, on research of proverbs from 245 languages, the author goes on to analyse them on the basis of the specific references to women in proverbs.


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