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Midterm Study Guide - Rees and Rees Chapter 1 Introduction...

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Rees and Rees Chapter 1 Introduction The introduction to Celtic Heritage takes a look at the art of storytelling throughout Irish history and how this tradition has evolved into the scholastic studying of the tales as we interpret them today. I. Storytelling “In certain parishes in Galway there are more good storytellers than are to be found anywhere else in Western Europe” -Claims like these have been made recently about the waning art of traditional storytelling. -Remote parts of Ireland and the Western islands of Scotland are said to be the last refuge of the ancient art in Western Europe. The Ancient Storytellers’ Art -Stories were told traditionally at nighttime during the winters in gatherings, each story spanning anywhere from one to six hours -The gatherings also included rhymes, riddles, songs, folk-prayers, proverbs, genealogical lore, and local traditions. -It was not considered proper for women to tell the stories of traditional heroes. Also, no man would tell a story in the presence of his father or elder brother. -The storytellers did not claim to be the inventors of their stories. -In form, characters, and motifs the early traditional oral tales had much in common with the tales from medieval manuscripts, which are “the pride and glory of Irish literature.” II. -Traditional tales have not always been confined to the peasantry. They were once a fundamental part of the Celtic aristocracy. -One Irish story tells of a learned poet Forgoll reciting a story to an Ulster king every night of winter from Samain to Beltaine (Nov. 1st to May 1st) -Those who recited or attentively listened to these tales were also promised such things as health, wealth, and progeny. -This tradition has also been seen throughout India -“When one inquires what kind of stories are these which have been credited with such extraordinary power, one finds that they tell of the adventures of heroes and heroines; enchantments and disenchantments; kings and queens, ogres and monsters and fairies; animals which speak and act as humans; journeys to another world, beyond the sea or under a lake, where time holds no sway . . .” -Such are the stories told by the peoples whose traditional culture has not been upset by the teaching of modern history and science -Traditionalists now heavily criticize the modern materialist for casting aside these stories as superstitious and irrelevant III.
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-These tales have begun to gain popularity relatively recently among scholars -They have recorded them with care, classified their motifs, and tried to trace their history. -The only “problem” is that the modern scholar cannot accord these tales with the same almost naïve faith. -Nevertheless, these scholars are beginning to find their own meaning and truth in the tales, beginning to realize that “wisdom did not begin with us.” - These tales were passed down through the hands of Christian scribes, and while it is impressive that the scribes recorded them all, there have been some challenges to the authority of the retellings.
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