The Folktale

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University of California Press, 1977 - Social Science - 510 pages
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"Thompson believed the folktale to be an important and living art, underlying all literary narrative forms. Most of all he wanted to acquaint readers with most of the great folktales of the world, not only for their own interest as stories, but as elements of culture. He writes about the nature and form of the folktale, gives an account of tales from Ireland to India, devotes a special section to the North American Indian tales and myths, and another to the methods of collecting, classifying, studying folktales as a living art. He found them rich and varied sources of entertainment and wisdom. So much is to be found in them, he said, that the talents of literary critics, historians, anthropologists, psychologists, linguists are all necessary. Study of the folktale involved 'more talents than one man can easily possess.' Stith Thompson came close to possessing them."  --Los Angeles Times   "Thompson's work in their field has shaped the study of this form of literature for the past three decades. In this classic work Thompson discusses a wide range of story motifs and retells their basic patterns. His classifications and descriptions of the huge mass of folk literature are extremely enjoyable reading. He also discusses the background to his own study of the folktale. He includes an index to tale types classified according to the main story motifs which can be used for reference. This outstanding book is very highly recommended as fascinating reading." --Kliatt Paperback Book Guide   "The Folktale will appeal to a wide public: the student of sociology of literature, the professor of comparative literature, the general reader interested in folklore. Thompson's book is a scholarly masterpiece." --Studies in Short Fiction  
 

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Contents

UNVERSALITY OF THE FOLKTALE
3
PEOPLES AND LANDS
13
THE COMPLEX TALE
21
THE SIMPLE TALE
188
THE FOLKTALE IN ANCIENT LITERATURE
272
EUROPEANASIATIC FOLKTALES IN OTHER
283
THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN TALE
297
CREATION MYTHS
303
MISCELLANEOUS AMERICAN INDIAN
359
THEORIES OF THE FOLKTALE
367
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF FOLK
391
COLLECTING FOLKTALES s
406
CLASSIFYING FOLK NARRATIVE
413
THE LIFE HISTORY OF A FOLKTALE
428
THE FOLKTALE AS LIVING ART
449
APPENDIX A IMPORTANT WORKS ON THE FOLKTALE
463

THE TRICKSTER CYCLE
319
TEST AND HERO TALES
329
JOURNEYS TO THE OTHER WORLD
345
ANIMAL WIVES AND HUSBANDS
353

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About the author (1977)

The son of a farmer, Stith Thompson was born near Bloomfield, Kentucky. In 1918 he married Louise Faust and they had two children, Dorothy and Marguerite. After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1914, Thompson began his teaching career at the University of Texas at Austin, later teaching at Colorado College and then at the University of Maine. Finally, he went to Indiana University, where he established his prominence as a folklorist. Thompson was instrumental in establishing folklore studies in the United States, legitimizing it as an academic discipline and placing it on a firm empirical foundation. In 1950 he organized an important international conference at Indiana University, bringing together world-renowned specialists to discuss aspects of the field in order to develop a historical perspective on folklore research. He also created a center for the study and research of folklore and for the training of folklore scholars at Indiana University. The University became the first in the United States to offer a doctoral program in folklore. Using the historic-geographic methods developed earlier by Julius and Kaarle Krohn, Thompson translated Aarne's Type-Index and produced the Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, revising both in subsequent years. They remain the central indexes for the historical approach to folk tale study. Thompson gained international recognition for his writings, which were praised for both their scholarship and their style. It has been written of his work that "[it] is not dry, attenuated, dull, pedantic . . . for Mr. Thompson has . . . unspoiled direct appreciation of the zest and flavor of the best in traditional literature" ( N.Y. Times Book Review).

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