The University of Arizona

Advanced Search
Catalogs The Books The Store News and Events Contact
In Favor of Deceit
A Study of Tricksters in an Amazonian Society
By Ellen B. Basso
376 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1988
Cloth (978-0-8165-1022-1) [s]
Related Interest
  - Anthropology

In stories ranging from subtle creation myths to derisive, off-color tales, the Kalapalo Indians of central Brazil demonstrate a fascination with deception and its many functions. In myths about
Ellen Basso is an anthropologist who presents an unusual collection of myths from the Kalapalo people of central Brazil: a collection which documents and translates tales reflecting the Kalapalo visions of illusion, deception, and survival methods.


Overall, Basso's In Favor of Deceit makes a major contribution on the oral literature of South American Indians. The original myths are engaging and sometimes hilarious, and her analysis is insightful.

—Latin American Research Review

The book is a treasure. . . . Basso's genius lies in her ability to bring forward the very process of storytelling as the element integral to the trickster dynamic.

—Asian Folklore Studies

A penetrating work: it will provide the reader with a good understanding of how a particular tribe interprets the world through their stories and their myths, and it presents original data taped and translated by the author. A challenging, important achievement!


tricksters and dupes, they explore the ambiguity of human experience, showing how important to human understanding is a sense of illusion, paradox, and contradiction. Ellen Basso's new study of these stories considers their relationship to other kinds of Kalapalo activities involving deception and features a unique collection of South American Indian narratives translated directly from performances by master storytellers in their original Carib language. Combining an ethnopoetic, performance-focused approach to storytelling with an action-oriented psychology, Basso arrives at an ethnographic understanding of Kalapalo trickster myths and Kalapalo ideas about deception. The commentary on the translations considers matters of theme, discourse, narrative progression, and performance context. The dialogical, interactive nature of Kalapalo storytelling, the development of characters through their conversations with one another, and the many ways storytelling and ordinary life enrich one another are examined to reveal the complex psychology of trickster myths and the special tricksterish quality of day-to-day Kalapalo behavior.

Top of Page

(800) 621-2736
(520) 621-1441

© 1988 The University of Arizona Press
Main Library Building, 5th Floor
1510 E. University Blvd.
P.O. Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055