Sunday Relevations

If I hadn’t already loved James R. Dow simply for writing GERMAN FOLKLORE, I would have totally fallen in love with the man once I would have read the first two sentences of the introduction to GERMAN FOLKLORE:

German Volkskunde, or German folklore as it is known outside the German-speaking world, has long been something of an obsession. It began quite innocently, with a course in folk narrative at the Gutenberg Universität in Mainz […]

Awww! Of course, I know exactly what he is talking about: several years ago, a friend of mine talked me into attending a class on the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales, also translated as German Popular Stories) at the institute of folklore, and just like that I was sucked in and decided to take folklore as one of my minor subjects. 🙂 And now folk literature forms a major part of my PhD project. That’s what these sneaky folklore people do to you: they make sure that, before you know it, the subject grabs you and never lets you go. *g*

So. Started reading Dow’s book this afternoon, and while he somewhat (over)simplifies several things, he has nevertheless written a great, because clear and concise introduction and overview. and, oh my gosh, I’ve already had some major relevations: it had completely escaped me that Stith Thompson wrote two indeces of folk literature: for one thing, he translated and expanded Antti Aarne’s Verzeichnis der Märchentypen (1910) as The Types of the Folk Tale (1928 / rev. 1961); for another, he also put together the six-volume Motif Index of Folk Literature (1955-58). (Goodness knows with what I’ve been working in the past.) What Dow does not mention, however, is that Aarne-Thompson index has been further expanded by now, namely by Hans-Jörg Uther’s The Types of International Folktales (2004).

This is interesting in so far as the types of folk tales are traditionally referred to by their number in the Aarne-Thompson index (abbreviated as either AT or AaTh); “Cinderella,” for example, is AaTh 150A. Apparently, this old classification has now been replaced by the ATU (Aarne-Thompson-Uther) system. Of course, tales taken from the Grimms’ Household Tales are also referred to by their position in the 1857 edition (= last edition done by the Grimms themselves – is there a specific term for that?). Thus, “Cinderella” is also known as KHM 2.

Confused yet? 😉