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 Folklore, What Value Has It?

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Red Don

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PostSubject: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Fri 26 Sep 2008, 12:09 pm

The Mysteriousbritain website concentrates a lot on Legends and Folklore, but are these things worth remembering, collecting and saving for future generations?
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baroniveagh

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Fri 26 Sep 2008, 10:21 pm

Yes, as they're of anthropological interest, if nothing else. One can really see the emergence of modern beliefs from the beliefs of previous societies.

People used to believe in ghosts and demons. Then we believed in humors and a static universe. Now we believe in quarks and dark matter. Who's to say in a thousand years men won't look back on us and think how foolish we were to believe such nonsense?
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Urisk

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sat 27 Sep 2008, 5:54 am

Are you kidding!?


Not only are they usually cracking stories but they give insight into the way we lived, traditions we held and the way we presented ourselves culturally. They are part of our national identity!

More often that not they provided those who could not read and write valuable lessons about morality, as many folk tales acted like proverbs, a lot like the stories in the Bible.




Not just that but most folktales are brilliant! Very Happy


If we leave them behind we leave a part of our heritage behind. Simple as. You might not think they're as relevant as they were, but they are!






Besides without folklore we wouldn't have such great bands on the planet as Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, Dougie Maclean and Amon Amarth!
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Ian
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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sat 27 Sep 2008, 8:30 am

A bit controversial this I think. Legends and Folklore are parts of out national heritage and identity which need preserving, just like we protect our stately homes, castles and other monuments. Although some of the stories may have no bearing on modern society, they are an insight to how our ancestors viewed and tried to explain there surroundings. They are important to record and preserve, just like local dialects and indeed languages such as Gaelic. Very Happy Very Happy

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baroniveagh

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sat 27 Sep 2008, 9:28 pm

Ponder this: what would modern fantasy be without the Arthurian Legend or the Norse "Ring" cycle? Those are, I might point out, folktale and legend.
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Mauro

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sun 28 Sep 2008, 4:44 am

To say that folklore is "invaluable" would be an understatement. Yes, many tales and traditions seem ridiculous to say the least to a modern observer but consider this: how long has literacy been widespread? Two centuries at the very best? How long have scholars been interested in "going to the ground" to analyze folklore? One century? It is well known that if traditions are not written down they'll become corrupted in three-four generations time and will disappear in twenty (as extimated by Dutch anthropologist Van Gennep).
When today we see a traditional festivity or hear a folktale we are probably listening to something very ancient that, though much corrupted and "embellished", has somehow managed to survive to present day.
For example I have been trying for may years now to track informations about the survival of pagan religions in the Alps into modern times. I have been able to discover that a Roman-era temple, probably built on a Celtic nemeton, originally dedicated to either Hercules or Hermes (Romans usually allowed locals to continue worhip their traditional Gods, though they usually "romanized" the names), was still in use well into the XVII century, right under the nose of the Roman Catholic Inquisition and Venetian authorities. What were the beliefs of these persons? How had their religion evolved? I would be delighted to know. I have also found very vague stories about a fertility cult in the Salzburger Alps which admitted only women and managed to survive until the opening years of the XX century, right under the nose of the "Most Catholic" Holy Roman Empire and just a few miles from where Mozart was stunning sophisticated Enlightment-era aristocrats with his incredible talent... can you believe that?
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Red Don

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sun 28 Sep 2008, 6:51 am

As Mauro points out over generations the stories change. I have no doubt that most of these tales were passed on through word of mouth and were changed to suit the audience or style of the narrator. So how can we be sure that we are looking at an original piece, or is it just a matter of trying to identify the oldest source.

I recently saw an epiosde of Merlin which has just started recently on TV. here they have Merlin as Arthurs servant boy whilst he is a prince in King Uthers Court of Camelot. This is total rework of earlier Arthurian traditions, which were again medieval changes to older stories. Why do they keep re-working these tales? Is it because the older rendition of the tales aren't exciting enough for todays viewers?
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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sun 28 Sep 2008, 11:37 am

When my son is born i will be reading Aesops fables, Grimms fairy tales, tales from Celtic and Norse mythology and a smattering of Terry Pratchetts Where's my Cow Smile So at least in our house the tales will live on, and hopefully when he has children of his own he will also read the same stories to them. So yes we do need to preserve these tales even if its just as childrens stories. And as Urisk points out a most of them teach us something about right and wrong, something that seems to be lacking a lot these days.
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Mon 29 Sep 2008, 4:39 am

People love stories. It's just an empirical observation. It explains why politicians and the media develop 'narratives' to sell whatever they're pushing. Wrap up a fact, or fiction for that matter, in a plot and more people will take notice.

Folklore probably once served the purpose of passing on wisdom orally. Many legends have obvious moral lessons. Whether folklore still serves such a purpose in the age of the internet, I've no idea. But I think it would be a great shame to lose these stories as they are part of our culture and their wisdom still applies.
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Urisk

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Mon 29 Sep 2008, 6:42 am

LeeWatt sent a little spark off in the back of my brain with his last line in particular.


Folktales come from an age when whole families would sit around the hearth and exchange such stories- they had the power to bring families together for an evening. This is something that is sorely lacking in modern families- there seems to be less and less family time; talking, telling stories, playing games etc etc. There's no lesson quite like the one told by "auld grampa" in a room lit only by the fire about why you don't "cry wolf"! You learn that one pretty quick, rather than reading it in a book in a classroom with a detatched teacher relaying the story to you only because he/she is paid to do so...



And fair enough the sotries may change, but everything does. We live in a constant state of change; nothing remains constant.
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Ian
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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Mon 29 Sep 2008, 10:04 am

Even our built heritage has changed over time. Castles were not built straight as we see them today and neither were more ancient monuments like Stonehenge, Callanish and Avebury. They were built and modified over time, with some castles even changing from being military installations to stately homes. It doesn't make them less valuable, but having a good working knowledge of such changes is important and I think this is the same with folklore. Preserve the earliset version you can, but also the later variations as these changes are just as important as they reflect society at the time of the changes.

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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Tue 30 Sep 2008, 5:48 am

In many ways, it doesn't matter if a folktale is original or not. These are stories that should be embellished over time. We're not dealing with fact here. I think a lot of folklore also provides an fascinating insight into our past relationaship with the world, and without wanting to sound like some new-age twit I think there's much to be learned from it.
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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Tue 30 Sep 2008, 12:25 pm

They were mentioning Nursery Rhymes on the One Show last night and how their content did not change over time because they were short little songs and they were learnt like that rather than as a set piece of prose. These days the rhymes are remembered and taught to children, but in many cases the meanings have been forgotten. Such as Ba Ba Black sheep was to remind people farmers that the crown was due a third of their wool, the church a third and they got to keep only one third themselves. Ring A Ring A Roses, the dangers of sneezing etc with the Black Death.

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Wed 01 Oct 2008, 2:36 pm

Yes - the Tale-Type Index is proof.

the problem is that so many folklore teachers are garbage.
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DJP

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PostSubject: Re: Folklore, What Value Has It?   Sun 05 Oct 2008, 5:38 pm

Quote :
I recently saw an epiosde of Merlin which has just started recently on TV. here they have Merlin as Arthurs servant boy whilst he is a prince in King Uthers Court of Camelot. This is total rework of earlier Arthurian traditions, which were again medieval changes to older stories. Why do they keep re-working these tales? Is it because the older rendition of the tales aren't exciting enough for todays viewers?

I was quite passionate about the Arthurian legend in my youth as I saw it as the quintesential British myth, but - good as it - it has changed so much over the years, depending on the author and the time it was written, that any truth has been long lost. Ian wrote a good article about Arthur on the main site http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/legends/arthurs_avalon.html

I thought the new series about Merlin was great a new look at an old myth that can still raise the blood (although my other half was questioning me on how authentic a young Merlin was in the series - an how come Uther was still alive- I must have let her watch my old favorite film: John Boormans Excalibur, a classic that follows one of the older legends) I think all folklore and legend is important and relative to today. As long as the root and lesson is not lost.
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