The Pale Fox

by Marcel Griaule, Germaine Dierterlen

 

Originally published in French as Le renard pâle by Paris Institut d'ethnologie in 1945, The Pale Fox was translated into English by Stephen C. Infantino and published by the Continuum Foundation of Chino Valley, AZ in 1986.

This is an important book in Dogon studies, because it was written by two of the pioneering anthropologists in the field. I am delighted that the continuum Foundation has sponsored the translation and publication in English of Le renard pale (The Pale Fox), a model of patient and sensitive anthropological fieldwork. In the 1930s an eccentric French ethnologist named Marcel Griaule arrived in what was then the French Sudan (modern Mali) intent on proving that the Africans were not ignorant savages with simplistic beliefs but sophisticated thinkers capable of great insights into science and philosophy and moreover that they were even the true originators of many of the mystical beliefs of the West, including the astrological Zodiac. It should not seem very ironic that he found precisely what he set out to find. His first test subjects were the Dogon people and sure enough he 'discovered' that they had a remarkable knowledge of the universe, including extensive familiarity with the Big Bang, atomic theory, the nature of galaxy formation, and many other secrets of the Solar System, including the ring of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.