Abstract

This article corroborates Alan Dundes’s psychoanalytic interpretation of flood myths as expressing male envy of female fertility and birth. My data consist of two deluge tales collected in a Sepik River society in Papua New Guinea in the 1980s and 1994. But I do more than simply test Dundes’s thesis. I also show that it is possible and, indeed, imperative to embed psychoanalytic analyses of oral tales in the local cultural context. I also update, in a sense, Dundes’s framework with insights from Lacanian and feminist anthropology. Last, I discuss how Iatmul women respond--both to the tale and its psychodynamic innuendo.

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