18. NARRATIVE AND LIFE (4/12)
19. NARRATIVE AND CONTROL (4/14)
20. FOLKTALE AND MYTH(4/21)
We are moving from narrative in general to kinds of narrative more often considered by
anthropologists. Tales and myths.
We by no means have a monopoly.
But also amateurs of all sorts have had a go at them, even more
psychologists, literary critics, etc.
Great deal of energy expended on typology. How do we tell fairy tales from legends
from myths etc?
Much of the problem is that we are imposing categories from our
culture on the world, words in English like myth and tale, expect all cultures to fit.
Folklorists have expended great energy on typology.
Some of it is useful.
But we are
largely going to ignore it in favor of other questions.
We will be most concerned with myth, but not drawing firm lines, if we can learn
something interesting from analysis of something that gets labeled a tale or legend, then
so be it.
Myth is a very complicated notion.
And the study of myth far from dispassionate.
Bound up in the romantic revival of 18
centuries; with discovery of sacred
epics of Asia; with nationalist search for roots and essence of nation, folklore studies an
important adjunct to nationalism.
Very useful study by Von Hendy (in supplementary
Q. What do we mean by myth? (even if we are inconsistent)
Q. What about myth of silent majority, or myth that the so-and-sos are all like that? key
feature is falsity.
-One kind of falsity, or at least difference: actions not same as mundane world today.
Gods, talking animals, transformations, etc.
But complicated, because in many usages, it is false on one level and true on another.
Very often but not always, is oral, part of oral tradition.
-assumption that there is a body of such stories
-and that in some way fundamental for society
-Very ethnocentric, imposing our definitions and assumptions on other culture.
But does appear that many societies do have narratives about ancient times, beginning of
world, when many things now differentiated were then still mixed, e.g. animals, spirits,
and in some way those narratives are more basic and fundamental than, e.g. a little tale
about three little pigs
So we are probably safe at having a crack at analyzing those sorts of narratives, whether a
particular one strikes us as a folktale or a myth