Cycles of Influence: Fiction, Folktale, Theory by Stephen Benson (Wayne State University Press) In this wide-ranging and insightful analysis, Stephen Benson proposes a poetics of narrative for postmodernism by placing new emphasis on the folktale. Postmodernist fictions have evidenced a return to narrative—to storytelling centered on a sequence of events, rather than a "spiraling" of events as found in modernism—and recent theorists have described narrative as a "central instance of the human mind." By characterizing the folktale as a prime embodiment of narrative, Benson relates folktales to many of the theoretical concerns of postmodernism and provides new insights into the works of major writers who have used this genre, which includes the subgenre of the fairy tale, in opening narrative up to new possibilities. Benson begins by examining the key features of folktales: their emphasis on a chain of events rather than description or consciousness, their emphasis on a self-contained fictional environment rather than realism, the presence of a storyteller as a self-confessed fabricator, their oral and communal status, and their ever-changing state, which defies authoritative versions. He traces the interactions between the folktale and Italo Calvino's Fiabe Italiane, between selected fictions of John Barth and the Arabian Nights, between the work of Robert Coover and the subgenre of the fairy tale, and between the "Bluebeard" stories and recent feminist retellings by Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood. The arguments Ipresented will interest not only folklorists and scholars of narrative but also readers in fields ranging from comparative literature to feminist theory.
The shift from narrative grammar to a pragmatics of narrativea shift charted in Cycles of Influence and involving a cyclical interactivity of theory and fictional practice, can be summarized in terms of an increasing concern for the ethics of narration. Some of the constituent questions implicated in such an ethics are discussed in detail, including the possibility of retrieving and listening to particular voices; singularity and the irreducibility of context; and the relative status of participants in the narrative contract. If, as Rosen says, the study of influence increases in importance as the influence itself becomes more diffuse, then the future of the influence of the folktale on literature might lie precisely in the idea of an orality (with all that implies) within the written text. Highlighting an "oral residue" in "the dominant modern novelistic tradition," Peter Brooks has suggested that it is precisely those elements of storytelling foregrounded in the oral narration of tales that are now, "in the era of textuality," most requiring of our attention: in particular, the lived interaction against and within which the giving and receiving of narrative takes place, and the sense that "[t]he transmission of narrative has cognitive value," that the act of narration is "not inconsequential." Brooks is fully aware of the dangers of nostalgia and mystification, but as Cycles of Influence attempts to demonstrate, literature and its attendant disciplines have had repeated and productive recourse to a range of ideas of the folktale and oral narrative. As such, it is fitting that this account of the on-going story cycle of influence should conclude with reference to ideas of narrative and narration which have found their most resonant (written) expression in the folkloric story cycle itself.
Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes edited by Clifton Fadiman and Andre Bernard (Little, Brown) This ultimate anthology of anecdotes, now revised with over 700 new entries is, unlike Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature, not a collect of the well known but the pithy story by and about a huge number of people from all walks of life.`The stories are all short enough that it is definitely aa must-have reference for every personal library for people who address groups.
From Hank Aaron to King Zog, Mao Tse-Tung to Madonna, Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes is the best source of anecdotes on the market. Featuring more than 2,000 people from around the world, past and present, in all fields, these short anecdotes provide remarkable insight into the human character. Ranging from the humorous to the tearful, they span classical history, recent politics, modern science, and the arts
Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes is a gold mine for anyone who gives speeches, is doing research, or simply likes to browse. As an informal tour of history and human nature at its most entertaining and instructive, this is sure to be a perennial favorite for years to come.
Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983-1999 edited by Margaret Read MacDonald and Brian W. Sturm (Gale Group)
Storyteller's Sourcebook 1983-1999 acts as a supplement to the 1982 publication, The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children (Gale Research 1982). These indexes allow access to folktales by subject, tale title, geographic/ethnic origin, or tale motif. For each tale the user is given a detailed plot description and citations for collections including the tale. Since the index is arranged according to the Stith Thompson motif-index schema, it is easy for the user to compare variants of a tale, finding comparable tales on adjoining pages in the index. A detailed keyword approach within the subject index provides quick entry to the index.
This work includes 210 folktale collections and 790 picture books. An attempt was made to include all folktale collections and folktale picture book retellings that were included in Children's Catalog 1983-1999 and all such titles reviewed in the American Library Association journal Booklist from 1983-1999. Original tales created by an author were not included. Collections consisting entirely of tall tales, epics, or classical mythology were not selected, though such material was indexed when it appeared in a folktale collection being indexed.
Folklorists use two kinds of classification to discuss folktales. A type index, developed by Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne in 1910, assigns a number to each entire tale. For example, the tale "Cinderella" is Type 510. We did not prepare complete type indexing for the stories in this index; however, we do include a "Type Index" (Part 5) for those tales for which the type numbers were readily available.
A motif index assigns a motif number to each small part of a tale: an action, actor, or object within the tale. Thus, "Cinderella" includes such motifs as Glass slipperF823.2; Cruel stepmother-S31; Three-fold flight from ball-8221; and others. The motif index was developed in 1932 by Indiana University folklorist Stith Thompson and published by Indiana University as the Motif Index of Folk-literature, with a revised edition published 1955-1958.
These two classification schemes are internationally accepted and facilitate discussion of folktales. Though a tale may appear in many languages and under many different titles, its type and motif numbers can identify it. Folklore scholars provide type and motif number notation with their work. Thus once a type or motif number of a tale is identified, it is possible to trace the tale through scholarly publications and locate other variants.
The Storyteller's Sourcebook volumes follow Stith Thompson's classification but have adapted it to meet the needs of teachers and librarians. The Sourcebook differs from Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature in three ways:
1. The format of the Sourcebook's Motif-Index has been expanded
to include an entire description of the tale at one point within the
index. Thus the descriptive feature of a type index is incorporated
into our Motif Index. Cross references are made to each tale
description from its constituent motifs elsewhere within the index.
2. Since this tool is designed primarily as a finding tool for storytellers and only secondarily as a reference tool for folktale scholars, the minute type of motif indexing provided in the Stith Thompson index is not attempted; however, a detailed subject index does create many points of access to each tale. Tales are indexed under their most important action motifs, with cross references to some subsidiary action motifs. Fewer entries are made here under actor or object motifs.
3. In instances in which a tale had not been indexed by Stith Thompson, we assigned a number to the tale which we felt was a logical expansion of Thompson's motif-index. Since many folklore scholars have been at work creating motif-indexes, we attempted to make our new indexing congruent with theirs whenever possible. Motif numbers that have been expanded by us are followed by an asterisk.
The Moral of the Story: Folktales for Character Development by Bobby Norfolk and Sherry Norfolk (August House) Throughout history, traditional cultures have recognized the role of storytelling in teaching values to children. Yet most educators have not fully capitalized on the connection between storytelling, folktales, and character education.
This user-friendly, hands-on guide to using storytelling and folktales in character education provides not only a rationale for this approach, it includes stories. These twelve stories are fun, time- and audience-tested, and accessible to a wide range of listeners, from preschool to high school.
The tales are enhanced by suggested activities or informal lesson plans, source notes, and extensive bibliographies that point the reader to additional sources of folktales suitable for character education.
The Moral of the Story: shows that, through the use of folktales and storytelling, character education can be fun, enjoyable, non-didactic and remarkably effective.
BOBBY NORFOLK first told stories as a national park ranger at the St. Louis Gateway Arch. As a stand-up comic, he has opened shows for Roberta Flack, B.B. King, and Lou Rawls. As a storyteller, he has won three Emmy Awards and two Parents' Choice Gold Awards. SHERRY NORFOLK draws on nearly two decades of experience as an elementary school teacher and children's librarian as well as her work as a storyteller in this book. The Norfolks have worked extensively in the area of storytelling and character education by taking their "Value Packed" program into residencies nationwide. They live in Atlanta and St. Louis.
Creating a Family Storytelling Tradition: Awakening the Hidden Storyteller by Robin Moore (August House). Where can you find the nearest storyteller? The answer may be closer than you think. Robin Moore believes we are all born with the ability to tell stories, though we live in an age that doesn't necessarily nurture that ability. A writer and professional storyteller, Moore guides parents and children in creating, telling, and listening to stories, activities the whole family can enjoy together. Guiding the reader through a series of "voyages" journeys through the imagination-he shows how to use our innate storytelling skills to recover lost family memories, escape the tyranny of the clock in the quest for "family time," and give parents a window into their children's lives.
ROBIN MOORE has been a professional storyteller since 1981. He has presented thousands of programs at schools, museums, and festivals, and on radio and television. He is the author of three historical novels for children, including the highly acclaimed Cherry Buck Tree. stone farmhouse in Pennsylvania.
So Ole Says to Lena: Folk Humor of the Upper Midwest edited and compiled by James P. Leary with an Introduction by W. K. McNeil (University of Wisconsin Press) In the land of beer, cheese, and muskies-where the polka is danced .
Through the Grapevine: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell by Martha Hamilton, Mitch Weiss edited by Carol Lyon (August House) Grapevine Keeps Buzzing Into Twenty‑First Century: "1 like storytelling better than TV, because the TV never asks you to do anything." ‑Elementary Student
35,000 years ago ‑ give or take ‑ folks started talking with one nother. They spent the next 29,500 years (or 8,082,191 days) perfecting the art of the story, whether it was a report on the day's hunt, the latest news in culinary cave cuisine, or where did thunder and lightning really come from.
When written language appeared some 5,500 years ago, spoken communication began evolving into new forms via the printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and the Internet. But like a Mississippi patch of Kudzu claims its territory, the grapevine of communication absorbed and utilized all those technological advances and continued to thrive, and in the last twenty‑five years ‑ with the storytelling renaissance ‑ we've gone back to our roots and stories are being told on audiocassettes and CDs, and in places such as schools, libraries, museums, senior citizen centers, storytelling festivals, and most importantly, in homes.
Storytellers Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss have embraced the stories carried down through the ages by many cultures in their latest book, Through the Grapevine: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell. Thirty‑one world tales that are fun to read out loud and especially fun to tell are included, as well as tips for telling the story without the book. The authors encourage budding tellers to "take these stories and make them your own. Don't tell them exactly the way we wrote them. Make them jump off the page!"
Twenty‑nine countries and traditions are represented, including Kenya/Tanzania ("The Fearsome Monster in Hare's House"), Turkey ("Watermelons and Walnuts"), Norway ("The Boy Who Battled the Troublesome Troll"), Congo ("Taking the Bad with the Good"), and Jewish ("The Thief Who Aimed to Please"). General tips for telling stories, follow‑up activities, and story sources are included.This collection embodies the philosophy of Hamilton and Weiss when it comes to the importance of nurturing the modern‑day grapevine: "It's only when stories are passing from one person to another that they really come alive. It's the living story‑the one told directly to us by someone else‑that grabs our attention and touches our hearts."
The Epic Hero by Dean A. Miller (Johns Hopkins University Press) From Odysseus to Aeneas, from Beowulf to King Arthur, from the Mahabharata to the Ossetian "Nart" tales, epic heroes and their stories have symbolized the power of the human imagination. Drawing on diverse disciplines including classics, anthropology, psychology, and literary studies, this product, of twenty years' scholarship provides a detailed typology of the hero in western myth: birth, parentage, familial ties, sexuality, character, deeds, death, and afterlife. Dean A. Miller examines the place of the hero in the physical world (wilderness, castle, prison cell) and in society (among monarchs, fools, shamans, rivals, and gods). He looks at the hero in battle and quest; at his political status; and at his relationship to established religion. The book spans western epic traditions, including Greek, Roman, Nordic, and Celtic, as well as the Indian and Persian legacies. A large section of the book also examines the figures who modify or accompany the hero: partners, helpers (animal and sometimes monstrous), foes, foils, and even antitypes.
The Epic Hero serves as a valuable collection of reference data
for scholars working in the field of the epic. Its detailed
classifications and comparisons encourage discussion about the
complex hero image-an image, Miller argues, that develops from a
particular warrior-aristocratic fantasy, and as a result shows some
consistency, whatever the epic source. Within this consistency,
however, Miller locates paradox: an isolated figure, the hero
remains vital to the imagination of his society (a society he
frequently avoids, threatens, or refuses to recognize). The hero
represents an extraordinary energy and vitality, but this
life-affirming energy tends to erupt in violence--ultimately leading
to the hero's death. Miller's
The Epic Hero provides a comprehensive and provocative guide to
these complex figures, and to the richly imaginative tales they
Dean A. Miller is a professor emeritus of history and comparative religion at the University of Rochester.
Introduction: The Book of the Hero
The Hero from on High
The Heroic Biography
The Framework of Adventure
The Hero ``Speaks''
Foils, Fools, and Antiheroes
Tertium Quid: Aspects of Liminality
The Final Hero: Beyond Immortality
The Serpent's Tale: Snakes in Folklore and Literature by Gregory McNamee "We travel the world," writes Gregory McNamee, "and wherever we go there are snake stories to entertain us." Here are some fifty diverse and unusual accounts of serpents from cultures across time and around the globe: snakes that talk, jump, and dance; snakes that transform into other creatures; snakes that just . . . watch.
Many selections are drawn from the rich oral traditions of peoples in every clime that supports reptiles, from the Akimel O'odham of North America to the Mensa Bet-Abrahe of Africa to the Mungkjan of Australia. Included as well are such writings as prayers from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, a poem by Emily Dickinson, and a journal entry by Charles Darwin.
What we read about snakes in The Serpent's Tale: Snakes in Folklore and Literature is just as fascinating for what it says about us, for there always will be something primordial about our connection to them. That bond is evident in these stories: in how we associate snakes with nature's elemental forces, how we attribute special qualities to their eyes and skin, and how they preside over all phases of our existence, from creation to death to resurrection.
How Rattlesnake Learned to Bite Akimel O'odham
A Pinacate Weresnake Julian Hayden
The Three Snake Leaves German folktale
A Garter Snake Emily Dickinson
Coyote and Rattlesnake Zia Pueblo folktale
Timber Rattler J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
Humpy Lumpy Snakes Queen Liliuokalani
Yosemite Rattlers John Muir
The Jumping Snakes of Sarajevo Yugoslavian legend
Proverbs and Customs Afghani
Moroccan folk beliefs
The Asp Edward Topsell
The Greedy Minister and the Serpent Chinese folktale
Thor and the Serpent Icelandic myth
The Well of Heway Mensa Bet-Abrahe folktale
The Canoe Paddlers Ngulugwongga folktale
Flood, Flame, and Headache Romanian folktales
Cobra, Go Away! Ancient Egyptian prayers
The Lucknow Cobra Thomas Barbour
Taipan the Snake and the Blue-Tongued Lizard Mungkjan folktales
The White Adder Scottish legend
Texas Snakes Mexican American folktales
Danger Snake Gunwinggu folktale
Albanian Snakelore Edith Durbam
Snake and Sparrow Palestinian folktale
Why Rattlesnakes Don't Cross the River Thompson Indian folktale
In Search of a Dream Santali folktale
Rattlesnake Ceremony Song Yokuts Indian song
The Fight with Bida Soninke legend
Dangerous Hours Greek folk beliefs
Notes from a Bestiary Medieval Latin text
An Argentine Viper Charles Darwin
A Florida Coach-Whip William Bartram
Snake Killer W.H. Hudson
English Vipers Gilbert White
He Saves a Snake Tzotzil Maya folktale
The Two Sisters and the Boa Kucong folktale
The Origins of the Snake Clan Tewa folktale
Coyote Learns a Lesson from Snake Wichita folktale
The Racing Snake Creek folktale
The Man Who Became a Snake Hitchiti folktale
The White and Black Serpents Chinese folktale
Ancient Snakes Pliny the Elder
The Lion and the Snake Swahili folktale
The Origin of the People Venda folktale
Snake Healing Formulas Tutsi magical songs
The Snake Ogre Sioux myth
Nife the Snake Mono-Alu folktale
The Serpent of the Sea Zuni folktale
The Moon and the Great Snake Cree folktale
The Serpent King Calabrian folktale
The Woman Who Married a Snake Blackfoot folktale
A Curative Snakepit Italian legend
How Snake Child Was Killed Arikara folktale
The Story of the Serpent Chinese folktale
Snakish Ways Aelian
Gregory McNamee is the author or editor of numerous books, including Blue Mountains Far Away, Grand Canyon Place Names, A Desert Bestiary, and Gila: The Life and Death of an American River. His work appears regularly in such publications as Outside, New Times,and The Bloomsbury Review. McNamee lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Trickster Lives: Culture and Myth in American Fiction edited by Jeanne Campbell Reesman (University of Georgia Press) At once criminal and savior, clown and creator, antagonist and mediator, the character of trickster has made frequent appearances in works by writers the world over. As Margaret Atwood observed, trickster gods "stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands; they operate where things are joined together and, thus, can also fall apart." A shaping force in American literature, trickster has appeared in such characters as Huckleberry Finn, Rinehart, Sula, and Nanapush. Usually a figure both culturally specific and transcendent, trickster leads the way to the unconscious, the concealed, and the seemingly unattainable.
Trickster Lives: Culture and Myth in American Fiction offers thirteen new and challenging interpretations of trickster in American writing, including essays on works by African American, Native American, Pacific Rim, and Latino writers, as well as an examination of trickster politics. This innovative collection of work conveys the trickster's unmistakable imprint on the modern world.
Native American Tricksters: Literary Figuras of Community Transformers William G. Doty
Kamapua'a: A Hawaiian Trickster Nancy Alpert Mower
Brer Rabbit and His Cherokee Cousin: Moving Beyond Appropriation Sandra K. Baringer
Deadpan Trickster: The American Humor of Huckleberry Finn Sacvan Bercovitch
The Trickster God in "Roughing It" Lawrence I. Berkove
John, Brer Rabbit, and Babo: The Trickster and Cultural Power in Melville and Joel Chandler Harris R. Bruce Bickley Jr.
Tricksters and Shamans in Jack London's Short Stories Gail Jones
Daring the Free Fall: Sula as Lilith Debbie Lopez
The Trickster Metaphysics of Thylias Moss Jay Winston
"Stop Making Sense": Trickster Variations in the Fiction of Louise Erdrich Claudia Gutwirth
Turning Tricks: Trafficking in the Figure of the Latino Maria DeGuzman
Where Are the Women Tricksters? Lewis Hyde
Constitutional Allegory and Affirmative Action Babies: Stephen Carter's Talk of "Dissent" Houston A. Baker Jr.
Notes on Contributors
Jeanne Campbell Reesman is Interim Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is the author of several books and the editor of Speaking the Other Self: American Women Writers (Georgia). Contributors: Houston A. Baker Jr., Sandra K. Baringer, Sacvan Bercovitch, Lawrence I. Berkove, R. Bruce Bickley Jr., Maria DeGuzman, William G. Doty, Claudia Gutwirth, Lewis Hyde, Gail Jones, Debbie Lopez, Nancy Alpert Mower, Jeanne Campbell Reesman, and Jay Winston.
Shadows and Cypress: Southern Ghost Stories by Alan Brown (University of Mississippi Press) is the best collection of ghost stories I've seen. Many have been gathered from the old WPA collections, and many have been collected in the oral tradition. Dr. Brown is an expert on the classification of folklore. His expertise in this area is evident. The collection includes selections suitable for use by all ages.
The American South is renowned for its tale telling and its ghosts. In backwaters as dark as a cypress swamp, in nooks as musty as a college library, southern storytellers have found the spooky inspiration to tell ghost stories that terrify listeners.
This collection of told tales summons ghosts from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Gathering more than a dozen stories from each state, it offers a panorama of creepy locales arid grisly lore. The limestone caves of Kentucky, the swamps of Louisiana and Florida, the pine hills and hollows of Appalachia, and the plains of Texas-these are perfect haunts for a host of narratives about visitors from the spirit world.
Featured in these eerie tales are spooks that are distinctive and indigenous-the "fillet" and "loogaru" of Louisiana, "plateye" of South Carolina, and assorted "haints" from all across Dixie. Beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing to present day, this generous gathering of tales will chill and delight readers. It is a comprehensive regional sourcebook of the supernatural.
Alan Brown is a professor of English at the University of West Alabama. He has published several books, including Dim Roads and Dark Nights (1993) and The Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore (1996).
Excerpt from introduction:
Excerpt from introduction:
Admittedly, the WPA narratives included in this book violate many of the rules I tried to follow in my own transcriptions. B. A, Botkin's Manual for Folklore Studies told field-workers to make every effort to record each story's "source, history, and use, in addition to the past and present experience of the people who kept it alive."" However, because many of the field-workers were students, bank tellers, clerks, newspaper reporters, and aspiring writers, they were not skilled in the techniques of collecting folklore. In fact, most of the training they received consisted of written guidelines from the Washington Office, advice received from fellow fieldworkers, and their own experience ,'e Not surprisingly, then, many WPA narratives were heavily rewritten and edited for content. Transcriptions of narratives provided by African-American informants contain many more dialect transcriptions than those from whites. Rather than completely rewrite the WPA material to match my own transcriptions, I removed eyedialect (laid instead of layed) and regularized punctuation and spelling (e.g., ev'y instead of ev'vy). I also added apostrophes to those words in which a letter had been dropped (e.g., an' instead of an).
Finally, southern ghost tales can be differentiated by placing them in categories. The method most widely accepted by folklorists of labeling an oral ghost narrative as being of a certain type is through the identification of motifs within the tales. The tales in this collection were inventoried for the occurrences of words relating to the setting of the stories. The count revealed that the word house was employed in sixty-two of the narratives approximately 30 percent of the total. Old, dilapidated houses are conventional settings for ghost stories; it is surprising, therefore, that there were not more "haunted house" stories in the collection. When the informants were specific about where the ghost appeared in the house, the word bedroom was used in twelve of the narratives. Because the night appears to be an opportune time for seeing ghosts, it stands to reason that they would show up in the bedroom. Only one ghost appeared in the kitchen, and no ghosts made an appearance in the basement or cellar. Houses were not the only haunted places in these stories. Six of the stories featured "college ghosts," which haunted dormitories and administration buildings. Considering the age of many college buildings, one expects many of them to have a tragic history. Ghosts seem to prefer spiritual places, a fact that may account for the sighting of ghosts in churches. Ghosts were also seen in three narratives featuring theaters, all of which were very old. Hospitals were the settings of two of the tales. The words city hall and office building were mentioned once. The fact that ghosts are gradually moving out of houses and into other buildings reflects the gradual urbanization of the South.
The physical features of outdoor settings were also inventoried. In twenty of the stories, ghosts frightened people along lonely country roads; in fifteen of these tales, the individuals who saw the ghosts were traveling alone. Ten of the narratives were set in cemeteries, which are certainly conventional places for seeing spirits. The only other out-of-the-way place where ghosts were seen is bridges (twice).
Stories can also be classified according to the types of ghosts that scare people. The ghosts were overwhelmingly female, with forty-two citations; males were mentioned twenty-four times. Two of the female ghosts were identified as witches. Three of the male ghosts were identified as boys, and four of the female ghosts were girls. Sixteen of the ghosts were headless, an element of ghost tales that the English and Scotch-Irish settlers brought to this country with them. Not all of the ghosts in this book are human, including, interestingly enough, one of the headless revenants, a horse minus its head. The rural settings of most of the stories accounts for the appearance of dogs (five), cats (five), cows (three), horses (two), alligators (one), wolves (one), and opossums (one). One would expect that as the South becomes more urbanized, cows, horses, and wild animals will appear less often in oral ghost tales. The country or forest settings also explains why fifteen of the narratives featured ghosts as balls of light, which are often identified by more objective observers as swamp gas, or methane.
A third way of categorizing ghost stories is the reason for the manifestation. The overwhelming number of ghosts (thirty-two) 4iow up for no apparent reason, a category that William Lynwood Montell devised for his book Ghosts Along the Cumberland . The second largest group included those spirits who cannot rest in their graves, either because they were murdered (eight) or because they committed suicide (seven). Two restless spirits returned because of the theft of a body part. Five ghosts informed the living of the location of hidden or buried treasure. Twelve of the ghosts appeared to warn people of impending doom or to comfort and reassure them. Eight ghosts returned either to complete unfinished work (three) or to reengage in their earthly activities. The reluctance of ghosts to depart completely from this life accounts for the haunted rocking chairs (two) and haunted spinning wheels (two).
The pivotal historical event that has shaped the development of the South for the past 130 years-the Civil War-is one of the primary elements of southern ghost stories that distinguish them from ghost stories gathered from other parts of the country. With the exception of the Battle of Gettysburg and a few other battles, most of the fighting in the Civil War took place in the South, and the war's terrible effects have manifested themselves in every aspect of southern life-including its folklore. Many Civil War stories survive to this day in the form of family folklore, tales that have been handed down from one generation to the next. A prime example is "Knocking Spirit" (WPA) (story 187) from Virginia, which serve as reminders of the indignities southerners suffered at the hands of the Yankee invaders. A similar story, also passed down in the same family through the years is "Uncle Issue's Treasure" (story 187), a North Carolina tale that again records the cruelty the Yankees imposed on civilians but also demonstrates the ingenious methods southerners devised to protect their valuables. Of course, conventional ghost stories have also emerged from the conflict, such as "The Haunted Rifle" (WPA) (story 182), which deals with a haunted object that is taken into a home. The impact of the Civil War on the average southerner is just now beginning to wane, a fact that is substantiated by the large number of young people who no longer harbor a grudge against the North. Consequently, the Civil War does not seem to have nearly as great an influence on the ghost stories being told in high schools and colleges today, except for those storytellers who identify the ghost of an unknown person with the statement, "It could have been a soldier, I guess."
The sad legacy of slavery is another major distinguishing element of southern ghost stories. It is interesting to note, though, that most of the stories featuring slaves do not stand as condemnations of slavery. A good example is "The Screaming Woman" (story 74) from Kentucky, which is actually more of an indictment of miscegenation than of slavery itself. Another Kentucky story, also from a white informant-"The Unseen Feeling"(story 69)-is actually a fairly conventional haunted graveyard tale, although the narrator does make the statement in the beginning that owners thought of slaves as being "[not] much more than possessions." Their white masters can attribute the almost complete absence of references to slavery by black informants in the WPA stories to the fear of reprisal from a white interviewer who might be offended by references to the cruel treatment of slaves. A notable exception is "Buck's Visitation" (WPA) (story 31) by Adeline Buries, an ex-slave, but even this story omits any direct reference to the horrors of slavery. In fact, the story showcases the generosity of the master in giving a house to a slave, and the slave's loyalty and respect for white people by giving the ghost's treasure to the relatives of the owner of the house. Ironically, the only WPA ghost story that actually does touch upon the mistreatment of slaves is "A Haunted House" (WPA) (story 122), the tale of the return of the spirit of a slave named Samba after his murder at the hands of his master's drunken son. Surprisingly, this tragic tale ends on a humorous note as the notoriously slow-walking slave gains a little speed in his stride after he has become a ghost.
Although this collection does not provide an implicit answer to the question, "Why do so many ghost stories come from the South?," one can infer several reasons after having read the tales and the notes. As was stated before, southerners love to talk, and ghost stories engage the listener's attention and emotional involvement to a degree that no other type of folktale can match. In addition, the Bible Belt that stretches across the entire South has produced a deeply spiritual people who have always been somewhat skeptical of coldly scientific explanations for the mysteries of the universe. Most important, though, the South's tragic past has provided countless accounts of misery and suffering that have been transformed through various retellings into little memorials of belief in the value of human life and the eternal persistence of the human spirit.
An Introduction to the Russian Folktale (The Complete Russian Folktale, 1) by Jack V. Haney (M.E. Sharpe) In this very well written and appealing introduction to the Russian folktale, Haney offers an analysis of the origin, structure and language of folktales; tale-tellers and the audiences; the relationship of folktales to Russia ritual life. The volume is serving as an introduction to a series of volumes highlighting the wealth of oral narrative in Russia.
Contents: Preface, Technical Note, The Folktale in Russia, What Is a Folktale? Kinds of Folktales, Structure, Classification, The Narrative, The Narrator, The Audience, The Language of the Folktale, Recordings and Collections, Priests, Skomorokhs, and Tellers of Tales, The Russian Ritual Milieu: A Background for Interpretation, Ditheism, The Ancient Heritage, Creation Myths, The Sacrifices, Rituals of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Russia, Birthing, Female Initiation Rites, Male Initiation Rites, The Wedding, The Funeral, The Russian Folktale as a Source for Understanding Ritual, Bear Rituals in Folk Tradition, The Horse in Ancient Eurasian Ritual and the Russian Folktale, The Horse in Slavic Ritual and Folktale, The Complete Russian Folktale: An Overview, Animal Tales, Wondertales, Legends, Tales of Everyday Life and Anecdotes, Notes, Bibliography, Index, About the Author
The Mythology of Cats: Feline Legend and Lore Through the Ages
by Gerald and Loretta Hausman, line drawings by Mariah Fox (Berkley)
This fanciful volume collects much lore and anecdote about our
feline companions. The Hausman’s have been researching and writing
about cat mythology for decades. In this cat-ivating collection of
over fifty tales, they celebrate the spiritual and mythological
magic of our feline friends.
The cat who consoled Jack Kerouac
The cat who named the country of Scotland
The cat who worked as a maitre d'
The cat who traveled through Persia
The cat who inspired Ernest Hemingway
And many more fascinating felines
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