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Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales

Joe Offer 30 Oct 12 - 05:31 AM
Mo the caller 30 Oct 12 - 06:14 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Oct 12 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 30 Oct 12 - 07:46 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Oct 12 - 10:15 AM
Kele 30 Oct 12 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 30 Oct 12 - 11:36 AM
deepdoc1 30 Oct 12 - 12:02 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Oct 12 - 12:25 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Oct 12 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 30 Oct 12 - 12:54 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Oct 12 - 01:32 PM
LadyJean 30 Oct 12 - 09:42 PM
Joe Offer 31 Oct 12 - 01:57 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 12 - 04:50 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 12 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 31 Oct 12 - 07:53 AM
freda underhill 31 Oct 12 - 06:55 PM
Kele 01 Nov 12 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 01 Nov 12 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Nov 12 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 02 Nov 12 - 07:02 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 12 - 09:37 AM
Kele 02 Nov 12 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 02 Nov 12 - 03:51 PM
LadyJean 03 Nov 12 - 01:03 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Nov 12 - 03:45 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Nov 12 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 03 Nov 12 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 03 Nov 12 - 06:49 AM
Gutcher 03 Nov 12 - 09:59 AM
JohnInKansas 03 Nov 12 - 10:43 PM
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Claire M 23 Mar 13 - 08:16 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 13 - 08:55 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 13 - 09:04 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 13 - 09:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 13 - 09:59 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 13 - 05:23 AM
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Jim Carroll 24 Mar 13 - 12:35 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 05:31 AM

I guess I've always loved fairy tales. I don't know how I got to know them, since I don't remember my parents reading them to me. Maybe they did - my memory for some things is great, but I don't remember much of my early life before the age of five.

But lately I've been wondering about where those fairy tales came from. I mean, they can't all have come from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson and the author of 1001 Arabian Nights. Humanities and Social Sciences Online has a fascinating review of a 2009 book by Ruth B. Bottigheimer titled Fairy Tales: A New History. According to the review, Bottigheimer claims that the Brothers Grimm got their stories from neighbors in Kassel, Germany - but that most of the stories go back to seventeenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Here's an excerpt of the review:

    The first station of Bottigheimer is her treatment of the Grimms' fairy tale background. The Grimms' sources--supposedly from a rural peasant background--are revealed to have been the daughters of their neighbor, an apothecary, in Kassel. Only one female informant, Dorothea Viehmann, seems to have been truly from a peasant family. The true background of these sources had been glossed over by Wilhelm Grimm, who wrote the prefaces to the fairy tale collection. He also covered up their limited regional scope, claiming he and Jakob had consulted informants in all of Hesse. From there Wilhelm went on to make his larger claim that the fairy tales formed part of "everything that still exists from Germany's ancient poetic forms" (p. 34). This became immensely important at a time when Germany was under the Napoleonic occupation and later as it was looking to establish its own cultural identity as a unified nation. This was also the time when the fairy tales became teaching tools, finding their way into textbooks and reading primers.

    As Bottigheimer shows, the tales which eventually became the Grimms' German fairy tales had made their way over the French border about fifty years prior to the Grimms' collection and, given the new insights into the degree of literacy among the lower-class population, it can be assumed that a wide spectrum of the population was familiar with the print edition of these French tales. They could have been plausibly disseminated by way of a semi-oral process, centering on a small group of readers and a larger group of listeners who then went on to convey the tale to another audience. In the following two chapters Bottigheimer takes her readers back to the fairy tale compilations in France and earlier in Italy that preceded the Grimms' collection. In the French context she focuses on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century collections of Charles Perrault (1628-1703), Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy (1650-1705), and Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier (1664-1734). Among the most well-known tales found in Perrault's compilation are "Sleeping Beauty," "Puss in Boots," "Cinderella," and "Little Red Riding Hood." His book was widely published throughout Europe, in 1756 in London and then in the 1760s translated into German and published in Germany and Switzerland. Using the tale of "Puss in Boots" among others, Bottigheimer shows how this story was already present in Straparola's sixteenth-century compilation as "Costantino Fortunato" and was considerably edited by Perrault. This is indicative of a general tendency in Perrault to erase most of the bawdy undertones in these tales and to elevate the heroes and heroines in their behavior and manners. The fact that Straparola's compilation, Le piacevoli notti (1551), was published in sixteen editions in France alone, makes it most probable that Perrault as well as his niece, who added a more moralizing tone to her rendition of the tales, had recourse to the Italian texts. Another important fact pointing in that direction is that subsequent collectors of French fairy tales, like Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and Charlotte Rose de La Force, did not include these tales, which they should have, were it true that all of the French authors worked from folk sources alone.

    The last stop on Bottigheimer's journey back to the origins of the Grimm fairy tales takes the reader to seventeenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Beginning with Giambattista Basile's Pentamarone (c. 1620), Bottigheimer also offers some valuable background on the genre of the tale compilation as such, in particular as far as the role of the narrator and the frame narrative is concerned. This general background information would have been useful to the reader earlier on, and the reasons for introducing it only in the last section of the literary analysis are not clear. Apart from that, Bottigheimer does a superb job of illuminating the backdrop to the creation of Basile's as well as Straparola's tale compilations, bringing out the different tone of each collection as well as explaining the sociopolitical context behind it. Basile's Neapolitan parody of the lofty Baroque style as exemplified by Boccaccio is as vivid as her analysis of Straparola's Le Piacevoli Notti, which she credits with the creation of the rise tale. The last source analyzed in this incredible chain of tale variations, is the late medieval tale "Lionbruno" (1470) whose overwhelmingly chivalric and religious overtones make it a perfect link between the medieval narrative tradition and the fairy tale, which retains some of its elements. In this chapter, literary analysis of the tales themselves, and biographical and historical background information, work together seamlessly, a symbiosis Bottigheimer does not quite achieve to the same degree in the preceding chapters.

I've often thought the sources of fairy tales could be as interesting as studying the sources of folk songs, so I thought I'd start this thread and see what people know or can find out about this subject.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Mo the caller
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 06:14 AM

Not exactly a fairy tale, but I've been intrigued at the various 'slants' different authors take on the King Arthur stories, making them into stories about clashes of religions, or ethnicity; ripping yarns of adventure, tales of personal and sexual rivalry; or magic.

A good story can take many reworkings.
The other one is Faust, which pops up all over the place (e.g. in SF)
And I suppose some of the Faust stories are variants on the 3 wishes stories, where the 'hero' thinks he can outwit the wish granter (ha!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 06:59 AM

There is a good series of Fairy Tales from various countries and traditions published in the 1980s over here by the Penguin Folklore Library, original publication according to the printing history by Harper & Row USA. Various editors, all with good and informative introductions. The ones I have are Irish, Jewish [title Elijah's Violin'], Arabic, Scottish Travellers [A Thorn In The King's Foot], The Cinderella Story (wonderful study of this tale's international variants). I expect this series still available, and should go far to answering your questions.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 07:46 AM

Scottish Travellers [A Thorn In The King's Foot],

Credit where credit's due, even though that cuts against the usual Folklorist Grain which sees such things in terms of the Anon. Collective Folk rather than the creative genius of the often highly individualised teller. In this case it is, of course, the late, and truly great, Duncan Williamson, with whom I was honoured to meet, perform with, get pissed with and discuss the ins & outs of storytelling into the wee small hours...

I think something Georgina Boyes (in The Imagined Village, p. 15) quoted from Joseph Jacobs (whose Celtic Fairy Tales / More Celtic Fairy Tales / English Fairy Tales etc. should be on everyone's bookshelves, at least those drawn to this thread) is relevant on this point:

In fact, as early as 1893 he described Folk as 'a fraud, a delusion, a myth' and 'simply a name for our ignorance'. [...] 'Little masterpieces', like Cinderella, Puss in Boots or Rumpelstiltskin, Jacobs insisted, emanated from 'an artist, who had the grin of conscious creation on his face as he told [the story] for the first time in the world's history'.

Amen to that.

*

In the study of Indo-European Folk morphology one is faced with a myriad of versions & variations of individual stories, easily o'erleaping linguistic barriers as clouds do frontiers. Indeed, some see such narrative patterns & structures as being as hardwired as our capacity for language itself - covering everything from basic syntax to sonata form. But, as with Folk Song, the patterns are the blueprints for the creativity of the individual teller - rather like jazz where John Coltrane might take a standard such as My Favourite Things and make it into something wonderful. Even tracing the variations in the collections that much is obvious. The individual folk tales aren't so much variations on a theme, but are single recorded instances of a uniquely improvised event which would never happen in quite the same way again.

My own personal favourite collections are John Sampson's XXI Welsh Gypsy Folk Tales (in which you find many an epic - such as The Firebird - masterfully reduced to its consummate essence) and Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe's Eventyr, which carry a more hearty rustic charm than many of their contemporaries.

To Michael's Penguin Folklore Libary I'll add Scandinavian Folk Tales, and mention must be made the innumerable facsimiles of various Victorian collections doing the rounds right now. My favourite of these is the work of Thomas Crofton Croker - not for any evident fidelity to his native sources, but rather his creative literary flair (easily on a par with that arch storyteller M R James) in making them his own. Of course, so much of this stuff is freely available online. So - start downloading for a very happy Halloween...

Fairy Legends and Traditions by Thomas Crofton Croker (1825)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 10:15 AM

"he described Folk as 'a fraud, a delusion, a myth' and 'simply a name for our ignorance"
There is little doubt that anthologists like the Grimms and Burton were dipping into a deep well of ancient oral creation for their tales (no matter what Jacobs, Boyes et al were claiming) A look at the excellent annotated edition of Grimm's Household Tales (Margaret Hunt, 1884 makes that perfectly clear)
Some of these armchair academics really do (or did) need to get out more often!
I would highly recommend Georges Denis Zimmermann's excellent 'The Irish Storyteller' for a survey of the Irish art of storytelling. Incidents such as that covered in 'The Burning of Brigid Cleary' show how deeply a belief in 'the fairies' was rooted in the lives of the rural Irish; in that case it was used as opposition for not passing the Home Rule bill at the end of the 19th century.
The belief in fairies in Ireland is often described here as having made an enormous contribution to archaeology, so deep was it that it prevented many farmers from ploughing up many of the prehistoric sites because they were believed to be 'fairy forts'.
A local woman summed up these beliefs to a collector friend some years ago, when, having recorded an evening's worth of fairy tales and lore he asked her did she believe in fairies and received the reply, "no, but they're there all right".   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Kele
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 11:11 AM

I really wish I had something amazing to contribute, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee...

There are Fairy Tales and Fairy Tales, really. Some of the most well-known ones--Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty etc--were actually written, composed, what-have-you by French fabulists. Were they drawing on previous tradition? Almost certainly. Writers do that. But you'll also notice that many of these "Fairy Tales" don't actually feature Fairies. Not like Knockgrafton or Aikendrum. The closest I can think to an actual Fairy presence in a popular tale is the dwarf in Snow White and Rose Red.

So I guess I'm wondering, what do you mean by "Fairy Tale?" Stories from one oral tradition or another, sometimes codified, often told to children as object lessons? Or actual stories about the little people and/or encounters with them?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 11:36 AM

Fairy Tale is the nature of the beast - involving fairy in terms of the supernatural, rather than fairies per se. The term Wonder Tale was current in storytelling circles two decades back, & no doubt still is. The Norwegian term is eventyr, which comes from adventure, in which evil nature comes out the dark woods in Troll form, only to be suitably trounced or else outwitted into self-mutilation (and worse) by the uniquitous Espen Askeladd, or Boots, or Jack, depending on what translation your reading. I'm especially fond of G.W.Dasent's East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon which is readily available in Dover paperback (although looking at my copy just now I see I bought it on Nov. 2nd 1995), though I prefer less folksy re-tellings.

*

I wonders, does Jim Carroll believe in Fairies as well as the letter of the Folk Law?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMm-WVt6RQA


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: deepdoc1
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 12:02 PM

Many can be traced to an author, but many more have their origins obscured in time. Native tales, creation tales, tales to instruct, tales attempting to scrute the inscrutable, all have been a'borning probably since early folk were huddled in fear in the back of their caves during a storm wondering wotinell. It's amazing how much similarity there is in early tales, and how many of them deal with the same things, such as creation, afterlife, procreation, etc.

I will enjoy rereading "The Broonie, Silkies & Fairies: Traveller's Tales of the Other World" when I return home ... assuming Sandy left it intact.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 12:25 PM

"I wonders, does Jim Carroll believe in Fairies as well as the letter of the Folk Law?"
No I don't, but I've met plenty of people who did.
I also prefer to go to people who have taken the trouble to lift their bums out of their armchairs when I wish to comapare notes on our findings on folklore - no law to have "letters" on, just hard gained experience in the field I'm afraid.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 12:28 PM

Would be delighted to swap notes with you though
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 12:54 PM

Any time, Jim - assuming you're talking to me.

Sorry about that link up there, BTW - couldn't resist. It's a piece of sacriledge to one of my all time heroes, but a little iconoclasm is good for the soul from time to time, and I'm sure Seamus Ennis didn't collect that. Or did he?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 01:32 PM

"Any time, Jim - assuming you're talking to me."
I was talking about actual experience rather than armchair musings, and I worked in the building trade for long enough to have learned that it was easier to pull something down what somebody else had built than to build something yourself
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: LadyJean
Date: 30 Oct 12 - 09:42 PM

We all tell the same stories. It's something I learned as a little girl reading books like "Told In Norway" or "Fairy Tales From Around the World". EVERYONE tells the story of Cinderella. Not with a fairy godmother and glass slppers. (The slippers were a misunderstanding.) But the story of a young girl mistreated by a step family, who is helped to a better life through magic, and recognized through her shoes, is pretty near universal.

Rumplestiltskin has cousins named Tom Tit Tot and Whuppity Stoorie, who make deals and vanish if you say their names.

I was reading, recently, a book of Jewish folktales and encountered a variant of the Merchant of Venice story, pound of flesh and all.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Oct 12 - 01:57 AM

The German term for "fairy tale" is "Märchen" - that's the diminutive form of the Middle High German word Maere, which means "report," or "news."

Here's an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Märchen:
    Märchen, plural Märchen, folktale characterized by elements of magic or the supernatural, such as the endowment of a mortal character with magical powers or special knowledge; variations expose the hero to supernatural beings or objects. The German term Märchen, used universally by folklorists, also embraces tall tales and humorous anecdotes; although it is often translated as "fairy tale," the fairy is not a requisite motif.

    Märchen usually begin with a formula such as "once upon a time," setting the story in an indefinite time and place....
You might want to take a look at the Google Books Preview of a fascinating book titled Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, by Maria Tatar.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 12 - 04:50 AM

"EVERYONE tells the story of Cinderella"
Penguin Books in its 'Folklore Library' series published a whole volume of Cinderella stories, 'The Cinderella Story' by Neil Phillip, which include versions from all over the world.
The author gives the earliest written form as having been a Chinese one found by an official, Tuan Ch'eng-shih, who lived from about AD 800 to 863.
His source was 'Li Shih-yuan, "who has been in service for my family for a long while"
William Bell's 'Shakespeare's Puck and his Folkslore' (William Bell 1852) mentions that character as turning up in ancient Greece and as far back as Anglo Saxon times.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 12 - 05:06 AM

Around the time we moved to the West of Ireland, fourteen years ago, a by-pass was being constructed around our county town, Ennis, part of which was to pass through a field containing a whitethorn, known here as 'a fairy
thorn bush'.
A local (professional) storyteller mounted a campaign to save the bush from destruction and eventually it was agreed, at some great expense it was rumoured, to re-rout the road around the site.
Despite a subsequent attack by vandals, the tree still flourishes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 31 Oct 12 - 07:53 AM

A few of us used to have The Caravan Club, nothing to do with mobile homes - the object was simply to collect as many versions of Juan Tizoll's Caravan as possible - from Duke Ellington to Martin Denny to The Mills Brothers astonishing acapella version. Of course there's never an end to such a pursuit: there are many such things in the feral realm of Truly Popular Culture that go on replicating themselves imperfectly ad indefinitely by way of entropy & re-invention. Folkies think of this as the Folk Process, but those of us in the real world just see it as integral aspect of the merry continuities of Life and Art.

One thing that's always intrigued me is the story known as Jack and the Good-helpers. In this tale, the eponymous protagonist assembles a gang of uniquely skilled individuals - the fast runner, the deep listener, the strong man, the man who can control the elements etc.   Now, I've come across countless collected versions and variants as far afield as Hungary, the Welsh Gypsies and Norway, and in everyone there is a flying boat - at least a boat that can go as well on land as it can in water. Sometimes this boat is incidental to the yarn (as it the Welsh Gypsy version collected by John Sampson) other times it's the whole point of the story - as in the Norwegian version. In this folk tale we have the roots of the yarns of Baron Munchausen - and the boat is there in Terry Gilliam's 1988 film.

Such frameworks exist for the creative mind of the storyteller to set to work on. As a storyteller myself I'm conscious of working creatively within the story, especially in a performance, but I never set foot beyond its parameters. There is a little Norwegian folktale I became familiar with as a kid called 'The Boy and the Devil' in which Jack (or Espen / Boots) manages to trap the devil in the shell of a hazel nut which he then gives to the blacksmith, thus giving the devil a good thrashing and ends the story with some verbal pyrotechnics and the droll punch line from the unwary blacksmith: 'The Devil himself must have been inside that nut!'

I've been telling the story myself for decades - expanding it from a few hundred words to a good twenty-minutes, but never once going beyond the bounds of the story. Raymond Greenoaken got it off me but found he couldn't get a laugh with the traditional ending, so he began to elaborate (with typical cunning I might add) outside of the framework. From Raymond it went to Richard Walker, AKA Mogsy, (RIP) who used it for his Jack and the Magic story. And so it goes on, and on, but the story remains at its most fundamental and traditional enshrined in the pages of Asbjorsen and Moe (I got in A Time For Trolls in Norway in 1969) waiting to be taken up afresh. Indeed it even links in with Duncan Williamson's epic 'The Boy and Death' which you'll find in his Penguin Folklore Library volume.

Incidentally the The Broonie, Silkies & Fairies: Traveller's Tales of the Other World mentioned by DeepDoc1 above is also a collection of Duncan Williamson stories. Always credit where credit is due.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: freda underhill
Date: 31 Oct 12 - 06:55 PM

In my teens I read and loved stories by the Scottish writer George MacDonald ( 1824 – 1905).

He wrote wonderful fairy tales and fantasy novels, and was one of the first fantasy writers. Some of his books include:

Phantastes
The Light Princess,
Dealings with the Fairies (contains The Golden Key)
At the Back of the North Wind
The Princess and the Goblin
The Lost Princess (aka The Wise Woman: a Parable)
The Day Boy and the Night Girl
The Princess and Curdie
Lilith

While these are not ancient tales handed down through generations, they a beautiful tales that inspired and generated a new genre, as he inspired and influenced Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later," said Lewis, "I knew that I had crossed a great frontier." G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence."

I feel the same way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Kele
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 09:07 AM

I love that "Jack and the Good Helpers" story (although I have to say, that title is new to me.) It's one of my favourites, and I can think of probably 20 versions of the top of my head. I always thought it would be interesting to do a graphic novel version of it with modern superheroes--like The Flash as the Fast man and Superman as the Strong man and Batman as...somebody. But I don't know what you'd do about the Hungry guy and the Thirsty guy!

I always loved the version with the guy whose eyesight is so keen that he has to wear a bandage around his eyes or else he splits things in two. Sounds like one of the X-Men.

Freda, I LOVE George MacDonald. I found The Princess and the Goblin in a book sale when I was like 8, and it's one of my favourite books ever.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 09:53 AM

Sounds like Harry Enfield's Righteous Justice, Kele!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 06:30 AM

You may enjoy Bertelmans two books they are used in university teacher training courses.

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/203434/the-uses-of-enchantment-by-bruno-bettelheim

The Uses of Enchantment - The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales Bruno Bettelheim, Random House 2010.

REPUBLISHED Product Details ISBN-13: 9780307739636 Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group Publication date: 5/11/2010

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 07:02 AM

The best collection(s) of folk tales I ever came across was the Folktales of the World series, published by Chicago University Press in the USA, and by RKP in Britain during the 1960s and '70s.

Each volume (IIRC there were around 20) was devoted to a different country, and edited by a recognised authority, under the general editorship of Richard Dorson. The stories were direct transcriptions, and translations, of field collected stories, and each volume came with copious notes, motif references etc. Plus, each had a foreword by Dorson, which usually discussed - often in a fair bit of depth - the history of the folklore movements of that particular country.

I doubt the whole series is still available, but Amazon lists several copies for sale. Unfortunately that includes the Katharine Briggs/Ruth Tongue Folktales of England, and it is probably the only volume which is at all suspect.

There's a lot of good material in it, and the book certainly benefits from Katharine Briggs' expertise. But Ruth Tongue's imagination should never have been let loose on an unsuspecting public.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 09:37 AM

One of the greatest problems when discussing 'fairy' and 'folk' tales is in combatting the idea that they are just for children - storytelling, certainly in Ireland and Scotland is very much an adult tradition.
Some of the great stories we have come across, from both Travellers and settled people, are long and complex, some of them lasting well over an hour. The father of one local man here in West Clare was said, by several people, to have started a story on Monday night and told it in episodes right through to Friday. His son, who we recorded at length, could only give us the shorter ones, but many of even these lasted an hour plus.
I believe that the idea of 'childrens' stories has been one of the causes of the 'tweeness' that infected the storytelling revival in Britain.
Pat was once told by a revivalist during a radio interview (Womans Hour) that "British audiences were not ready for long tales straightforwardly told, without the 'funny voices' and gimmicks" that put us off visiting so many storytelling clubs.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Kele
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 11:11 AM

Myself, I haven't really run across the notion that these tales are just for children. But maybe that's just an indication of the kind of adults I tend to hang out with. ;)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 03:51 PM

David Thomson's The People of the Sea is well worth looking out with respect of beliefs, community and storytellers.

I believe that the idea of 'childrens' stories has been one of the causes of the 'tweeness' that infected the storytelling revival in Britain.

I put that down to soppy middle-class new-age & so-called 'alternative' agendas myself. A complete anathema to the nature of both the stories and the traditions that made them. Duncan Williamson's children's stories, OTOH, I could listen to all day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: LadyJean
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 01:03 AM

I reccomend The Old Wives Book of Fairy Tales. Not a classic study exactly, but a lovely anthology of stories. Check the footnotes for the peasant story that became Little Red Riding Hood.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 03:45 AM

"I put that down to soppy middle-class new-age & so-called 'alternative' agendas myself."
I put it down to the rather disturbing Victorian re-invention of fairy/folk tales and lore - a strange mix of 'dumbing-down' censorship and erotic fantasising.
Some modern scholars have made a fair stab at unravelling the mess left behind; Maureen Duffy's 'The Erotic World of Faery' springs to mind (in which she describes, fairly accurately IMO, much of Victorian artistic representation of fairies as "an excuse for refined pornography".
We are still left with the situation where collections of folktales are invariably filed in the 'childrens' section in libraries and bookshops.
Some of the best examples of storytelling have been those left in the vernacular in which they have been collected.
'To Shorten the Road' (George Gmelch and Ben Kroup; and 'Puck of the Droms' (Artelia Court) are two fine examples of Irish Traveller storytelling - the latter includes an excellent commentary on the social setting in which the tales functioned.
For a comprehensive over-view anthology of Irish storytelling by somebody familiar with both the genre and the culture that gave rise to it, 'Irish Folktales' (part of the Penguin Folklore Library series) edited by Henry Glassie is well worth a dip into.
The magazine of The School of Scottish Studies, 'Tocher', is a goldmine of straight-from-the-horses-mouth Scottish tales (now appearing sporadically, but still available as a full set of 59 last time we looked .
By far, the classic analysis of the subject remains 'The Folktale' by Stith Thomson, originally published in 1946, but still available when we got our copy, republished by University of California Press in 1977.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 03:59 AM

Meant to mention 2 albums of field recordings of storytelling worth looking out for.
The Cassidys 1967, Irish Traveller Folktales and Songs (Pavee Point, Dublin)
Scottish Traditional Tales (2 CDs) (No. 17 in the School of Scottish Studies 'Scottish Tradition' series, released by Greentrax)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 05:53 AM

I'm thinking more of the Storytelling Revival of the pat 30 years or so which has seen a proliferation of 'professionals' eager to milk the readily available moolah in areas of recreation, heritage & education. I've been priviledged to meet & worked with some damn fine tellers, but overall the agenda is towards a dire middle-class mediocrity born from an orthodoxy of new-age / pagan mystical tweeness which is about as far removed from The Source as you could wish to get. I used to be quite involved, but these days I rarely bother. One of the last times I invited to perform in a Storytelling Club I had to jettison 90% of my set because the audience mostly consisted of precocious 12-year-olds who even took righteous offence at me singing The Innocent Hare. Ghastly!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 06:49 AM

The thing I can't stand about the present storytelling revival, unless it's changed drastically in recent years, is the "Are you sitting comfortably" voice which so many storytellers revert to, even when they're addressing an audience of perfectly rational adults.

Even now, with all the incredible work which the School of Scottish Studies et al have carried out, we have nothing like a comprehensive overview of traditional storytelling styles in English. Well, nothing like as comprehensive as our view of traditional song at any rate.

Nevertheless, traditional storytellers have been recorded from Cornwall to John O'Groats and from Cork to Donegal and across huge swathes of the United States. I've never heard one who made me feel like I was listening to Listen With Mother.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Gutcher
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 09:59 AM

Now here was I thinking that it was just my age that was giving me a jaundiced view of the histrionics that pass for modern day story telling.
This is the type of telling that may in the dim and distant past have been welcomed in Courts and in the halls of the Big Hooses but I am sure would have gone unregognised by the vast majority of the population.
The straightforward narration of the traditional tales and legends is,I have good reason to know,more appreciated by true connoisseurs and Professors of Folklore.
Jim Carrol and Blandiver hit the nail squarely on the head.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Nov 12 - 10:43 PM

A somewhat whimsical corruption of old legends popped up recently in the Astronomy section of the news. The article is a bit long, and rather "twisted" but it would be interesting to see if anyone else sees this as "an example of folk processing." (The author hasn't written the new story, but imagines a link between old stories and new ones.)

Celestial soap opera is now lighting up the night sky.

(There are references to US TV of a couple of decades ago, but we may be able to fill in the gaps if anyone draws a blank on them.)

John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 02:13 AM

This is a question that's been on my mind for a long time. Is there any real difference between a fairy tale and a folktale?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Claire M
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 08:16 AM

Hiya,

I too love fairy tales, myths, etc. I'd love to get mine published, but I can't think who'd want to read them. I used to be embarrassed that I liked them but don't care now. I like the gory ones the best, & was overjoyed to get a book of them in the old-fashioned language, with 'Tam Lin' in.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 08:55 AM

Folkies think of this as the Folk Process, but those of us in the real world just see it as integral aspect of the merry continuities of Life and Art.

"Folk Process" is a rather pithier way of referring to it.
...........
A local (professional) storyteller mounted a campaign to save the bush from destruction and eventually it was agreed, at some great expense it was rumoured, to re-rout the road around the site

Would that have been the great Eddie Lenihan?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 09:04 AM

That kink went wrong. This one should work better. Eddie Lenihan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 09:37 AM

"Would that have been the great Eddie Lenihan?"
It would indeed.
He is a somewhat eccentric storyteller, which is accentuated by his carefully groomed wild appearance, which, I would guess, is cultivated especially for the job in hand.
A lovely lady, the wife of a well known fiddle player (both now deceased), and no mean storyteller herself, once said of Eddie, "he looks like a ferret peeping out of a hedgehog's arse".
His metier, I think, is storytelling for children, which is very different from the adult variety we managed to record up to twenty years ago, both from Irish settled people and Travellers.
This area was once very rich in storytellers, but he old crowd are all but gone now.
There is one man aged 90 still living a couple of miles from here, who gave us a load of stories and came with us to the Brentford Storytelling festival in London back in the early 90s.
He (Francie Kennelly), along with the Stewarts of Blair, Bob Cann, Mikeen McCarthy, Junior Crehan, coal-miners from Wales, and several other lesser known source storytellers, were featured on a C90 cassette album we put out with the kind help of Malcolm Taylor, via The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in 1991. It was entitled "....and that's My Story - tales, yarns and legends from Britain and Ireland".
I think it's long out of pressing, but it keeps niggling in the back of my mind that we should perhaps get it re-released by somebody - I'm certain it would be of interest to storytelling fans.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 13 - 09:59 PM

True enough that children love Eddie's storytelling (though the mothers don't always!), but he can certainly hold adult listeners absolutely spellbound.

I've a notion the wild appearance is as much a matter of the storytelling allows him to look the way he likes to look, which would have been a bit tricky as a teacher. The lovely lady got it about right. A great look at that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 05:23 AM

One of the problems with many storytellers today (sorry to generalise) is that it has taken on a tweeness - a need to do something else other than just tell the story rather and rely on the narrative.
Following the storytelling festival I mentioned above, Pat was invited on to Womans Hour to talk about our recording; she was set against one of the London storytellers - a nice lady, very polite and dedicated to what she was doing.
When Pat commented that she thought many S.T. relied on gimmicks like dry ice, strange costumes and weird background music (we had recently seen a smoke-bomb and a loud cracker used in one performance) she was told that "modern audiences are incapable of listening to stories for any length of time without these additions".
Our introduction to stories had been the Stewarts - Alec, Belle and Sheila telling stories of considerable length to transfixed audiences.
Once we saw Scots Traveller Willie McPhee cut one story after 20 minutes because he realised that had he gone on to the end, his story (The Voyages of Mael Duinn) could easily have stretched to 1AM, which wouldn't have pleased the bar-staff downstairs.      
The tales we recorded were adult entertainment yet some performers insist on treating the audiences like children, which gives a distorted picture of the art.
One of the finest local (West Clare) storytellers we recorded had tales which ranged from 20 minutes to an hour long, mainly Fianna legends and Wonder tales. He told us that one of his influences in his youth was an old man who would start a tale on Monday night, break off at an appropriate point, take it up again the following night and go on till Friday - (just like 'Dick Barton, Special Agent' in the Saturday afternoon kids matinee)   
Given the right circumstances, audiences will listen to a skilful storyteller for as long as it takes; sometimes I think it's the storyteller and not the audience who lacks confidence in the stories and their ability to tell them.
Time to dismount off this particular hobby-horse.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 12:27 PM

"...modern audiences are incapable of listening to stories for any length of time without these additions".

I'd wholly agree, that is complete rubbish. That is even true for adults, who sometimes do have rather eroded attention spans.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 12:35 PM

MacColl once said that not long after he started to sing ballads at clubs, if it was a particularly long ballad, he would sing one half of it in the first half of the evening, the rest of it in the second half (he mentioned Gil Morice in particular).
He did this for some time until an audience member asked him why he did it like that He stopped doing it after that and put it down to his own lack of confidence , rather than the audiences' "not being ready for it."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 01:01 PM

I think there's a lot to be said for spreading a narrative over a period. After all, it's I expect that's how most bedtime stories for children are told, for those children lucky enough to still have bedtime stories. Leave 'em asking for more...


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Subject: George MacDonald
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 05:03 PM

I agree with the two earlier messages praising George MacDonald. His fantasies and fairy tales got my attention as a child: I came for the Goblins, and stayed for the Great Grandmother. (the Curdie books)

Only in middle age did I come upon MacDonald's Lilith. It puts a lot of people off; and I will agree its flaws are substantial. But Lilith is one of those experiments which I value, not for the expectations it fulfills, but for the sense of possibility, of horizons and frontiers. George MacDonald's upbringing, by rights, ought to have kept him well away from the analyses of Carl Jung; and yet, after years of writing and publishing, he came up with Lilith and it is so Jungian as to stop one in one's tracks.   

Tolkien could, and did, lose patience with MacDonald, calling him a grandmother, and not as a compliment. Tolkien described Lilith as a failure, but an interesting one; and of its shadows and darkness, Tolkien remarked: "Death is the theme that most inspired George MacDonald." (from A Tolkien Miscellany)   Anyway, Tolkien allowed -- i cannot find the exact quote -- that MacDonald's goblins were a direct influence on The Hobbit.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 06:31 AM

Twenty Minutes - Once Upon a Time... - @BBCRadio3

"An exploration of the dark, sinister and enchanted world of fairy tales.

Michael Rosen, AS Byatt and Richard Mabey take us into the woods - the realm where magic lurks, stange things happen, evil is vanquished and (usually) good prevails.

Why do these tales and myths continue to exert such a powerful fascination for children and adults alike?"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n48mw

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
bbc iPlayer Radio app
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3yvdp3zQJWLtl204z9nxgRt/download-the-iplayer-radio-app 
(then click the '+' on the programme's web page
then on the app click
Menu > My Radio > Listen Later)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 11:16 AM

Because they're among the first fully developed stories most children ever hear?

(Or used to be...?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 12:21 PM

If anybody is interested I have a number of articles recently digitised from old Journals (end of 19th, beginning of 20th century - FLS etc) on storytelling
Happy to pass them on
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 03:07 PM

Hi Jim

I would definitely be interested... I am a huge fan of Eamon Kelly
and storytelling in general. I don't do it as often as I once did,
the venues just don't seem to be around much here in Amerrykay.
I switched to using a 'rolleaux trasparent' to tell stories I have written and drawn myself. (Modern term 'crankies'...hate that term,,,ugh..).
The reaction from both young and old is remarkable. I originally used paper as the roll and backlit it with candles, as was done historically.
This was on the lawn in front of George Washington's house at Mount Vernon. Unfortunately the paper kept bunching up and jamming, and
one woman said : "ummm... I think its on fire.." It was. I put it out quickly and salvaged what I could, and cobbled the remaining parts back
on the roller. I knew I was on to something when she said.."does this mean you're no going to finish the story?"

Robert Mouland
www.wireharp.com


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sources of Fairy Tales
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 08:21 PM

Aarne–Thompson classification systems

Useful tool for following the family trees.


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