The Enchanted Amazon Rain Forest: Stories from a Vanishing World

Nigel J. H. Smith, Author University Press of Florida $29.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8130-1377-0
Between 1976 and 1994, the author collected stories from peasants (caboclos) in the Amazon basin, seeking insight into their perception of their environment, both social and ecological. Smith (Man, Fishes and the Amazon) considers the loss of aboriginal cultural diversity to be as serious as the loss of plant and animal species. He found that fear of supernatural reprisal underlies much of the lore of the hunter; the curupira, father of game, steals his victims' shadows. Fishermen fear the cobra granda, a giant snake whose eyes at night cast beams like flashlights. John of the forest is an invisible caretaker of plants. Spirits and ghosts spill into village life; most are concerned with moral and ethical issues. There are pugnacious black sows, giant white dogs and three-legged cows. Smith gives information on historical and geographical settings, flora and fauna and problems of rain forest conservation. These stories will appeal strongly to readers interested in folklore as well as to anthropologists and ecologists. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
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