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Folklore -- A Content Analysis

Guest Author - Paula Laurita

Let´s examine those tales that we have come to hold so dear.

What is the most anticipated book release? The next book in the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling of course! With the interest and controversy surrounding Harry Potter it is helpful to look at that other great world of literature that features magic, wizards, witches, and things that go bump in the night: The Fairy Tale. We will look at this genre of literature and have an opportunity to discuss it on our Library Sciences Forum.

Folklore, fairy tales, and tall tales have had a varied history from country to country and region to region. It is generally accepted that Italian tales from the oral tradition were recorded in literary works long before those from any other country. In Venice, as early as the middle of the sixteenth century, tales of wizardry and enchantment (some of them in dialect) were collected by Straparola in his Piacevoli Notti. Folklore, for the most part, was confined to scholars and to children’s writers in Italy.

In other parts of Europe folklore became the fashion for writers and poets. Since the seventeenth century in France fairy tales have flourished. This was directly due to the influence of court of the Sun King, Louis 14th, where
Charles Perrault
created a genre and set down in writing a refined version of simple popular tales. Until then they had been transmitted by word of mouth.

In Germany the earthy Brothers Grimm gathered gothic tales. This was done not for the sake of the stories themselves, but to gather a history of Germanic language and culture. The Volksgeist (spirit of the people) was the centerpiece of the patriotic and scholarly endeavor for the Grimms.

Through the diligent efforts of the folklorists around the world, and for varied motivations, people began to write down tales told by old women. As the scholars began examining folklore in earnest they looked beyond Europe. They looked to countries such as India and found roots for many of the western folk tales. Many made do with a "rough summary," while others strove to preserve the untarnished original stories.

Today, centuries later, scholars and educators look to folklore as a way in which to teach about the richness of diverse cultures, the similarities that exists in many folk tales (e.g., Turkey’s Gift and the Great Flood account), and the joy of a wonderful story. Folklore enables us to share in another culture, another time, and even another world. They often bridge our mundane world with supernatural beings and happenings.

Because folk tales often deal with a religious myth it is necessary to state a parameter of discussion. The religious folk tale or myth is a story told in order to convey a religious truth. Therefore, what is important is the substance of the truth, not the incidentals of the story. To list The Great Flood, as a folk tale does not demean the religious truth it seeks to convey. Instead, it gives credit to the great oral tradition to which it belongs.

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Content copyright © 2018 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.


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