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Abstract

Scholars have long attempted to situate the ant-episode from the twelfth-century German poem Reinhart Fuchs in a broad folklore framework. Concerned with conventional matters such as origin, function and transmission, they have broken up this episode into different motifs and referenced folktales and legends from widely separate times and places. The aim of this paper is to reassess these earlier philological-folklore approaches. I will rely on a multi-source method and examine, in comparative terms, three interconnected semantic narrative units: the enmity between ants and lions; the lion’s sickness triggered by the revenge of the ant, which crawls into the lion’s head; and the stratagem for expelling the head-insect with a sweating cure.

Abstract

Ms. Uppsala E.8 contains an incomplete version of the wonder tale ATU 510B, Donkey-Skin, taken down from oral performance in 1612. Though briefly mentioned in reference works it is largely ignored and has not been translated before. Other than being the first known version of the tale and of the motif Three Magical Dresses known from the Cinderella cycle it is probably the first record anywhere of a folktale taken down from an oral source, as demonstrated by its form. It also appears to be the only folktale manifestation of the motif Three Animal Opponents, known prominently from Dante’s Commedia. Complete versions of the tale come from Scandinavian nineteenth-century folk tradition in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Some of these have the incest motif (The Unnatural Father) common to ATU 510 B, while others, including the 1612 fragment, do not: these tell of a farmer or similar who wants to give his daughter to a man she does not want, not of a widowed king pretending a marriage with his own child. In both cases the heroine escapes from home, assisted by a magical Animal Helper. An early fourteenth-century version as a non-magical novella is found in the Florentine collection Il Pecorone; there is also a loose connection to Straparola’s novella Tebaldo – the latter with, the former without the incest motif. Furthermore, the existence of the tale is one of several obstacles to Ruth B. Bottigheimer’s controversial theory that wonder tales were a sixteenth-century urban creation in print rather than a European oral tradition.

Abstract

In this article I discuss how images of the Holocaust are contained in Polish oral narratives and the special way of transmitting them among peasants. Based on materials collected during ethnographic research conducted by Dionizjusz Czubala in the 1970s and 1980s in the southern part of the Świętokrzyskie Province in Poland I try to show, how traditional stereotypes concerning Jews and social relations influence the way of shaping and transmitting stories about the Holocaust. Analysing a sample of texts, I am arguing that core motif connects to the economic aspects of Polish-Jewish relations before and during the Second World War. I also claim that these recollections circulated in a situation that can be described as a pact of silence and therefore fulfilled several significant functions, among which the most important were: a) building and framing knowledge about past events, b) protection of the good reputation of the local community, c) maintaining relatively correct neighbourly relations, d) setting social status by stigmatizing economic contacts with Jews.

Abstract

Synonymous with Colombian cocaine and narcoterrorism, Pablo Escobar (1949–1993) was despised by the leaders of nations and became the primary target of the US government’s war on drugs. At the same time, Escobar gained fame and adulation, he entered popular culture through television and cinema, and became romanticized, idealized and turned into a myth. The aim of the paper is to analyze how Pablo Escobar became a legend and attained immortality, why this mythologizing occurred and how cultural industries added to the mythmaking process and his shaping as a folk hero.

Abstract

Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Ezra are two of the most celebrated pre-modern Jewish figures of all time. Born in late eleventh-century Spain, their lives intersected on several occasions. However, there is also an extensive web of folk narratives and traditions that have been told about them from the Middle-Ages to the present day which links them to each other through their imagined biographies. In fact, many stories were told about them separately depicting various facets of each man’s character. Here, however, we show that unlike other stories, those that bring them together revolve around a specific type of activity common to both; namely, poetry. Furthermore, their hagiographies tend to reproduce the typical milestones characteristic of biographies of saints and cultural heroes (Noy 1975): the prenatal legend, the biographical legend, the posthumous legend, events associated with the hero’s descendants, and events associated with the hero’s possessions. In this case, however, we argue that the stories not only correspond to their biographical phases, but that these stories shape their poetic endeavors as adhering to these phases as well, thus turning these two poets into a timeless couple separated in neither life or death, before their births or posthumously.

Abstract

The paper discusses the phenomenon of a well-known Czech folkloric character, the Spring Man, in its broader historical, social and pop-cultural context. This fictional hero appears in contemporary legends and anecdotes popular mostly during the Second World War; the narratives about the Spring Man represent a regional version (ecotype) of an international migratory legend about the originally English jumping urban phantom Spring-heeled Jack. Similarly to his English predecessor, the Czech Spring Man became a hero of popular culture, which, after 2002, rebranded this originally ambivalent urban apparition into the “first Czech superhero” of cartoons, comic books and movies.

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