Mudcat Café message #4017411 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166858   Message #4017411
Posted By: Raedwulf
06-Nov-19 - 02:12 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old?
Subject: RE: Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old?
Pseudonymous - thanks for the mention of Todorov. I did look up his narrative theory. As far as I can see from what's immediately (& perhaps superficially) available on the net, no it doesn't meet the "Silverberg Question". Todorov's theory is about the structure of how a story moves (& seems very reasonable to me); Silverberg's comments were about how there are only so many stories / motifs and, if you trouble to look at tales, you can reduce them all down to a small number of basic themes. But 'twas interesting ne'ertheless, forsooth!

Oh, heavens! did I just go Storyteller? *ahem*

Anne - I'm sure you already know, but just in case... People mostly never have travelled, only a special few. Until relatively recently (last 150 years or so), 10 miles away was a foreign country, more or less, for most folk even if they spoke the same language. I suspect that the few that travel have been as red blood cells to the 'fixed' other cells; carrying something with them, if you see what I mean.

Thus you have the Coggeshall stories - they tried to fish the moon out of a pond, to hedge in the cuckoo so that Spring would also not depart, fixed hurdles in a river bed to change its course... They're all classic "village of idiots" tales that are told of more than one place. There's a village on the Isle of Wight whose name I forget. There's Gotham in Notts, whose name I don't forget. In the case of Gotham, it's alleged that the idiocy was deliberate on their part (trying to avoid the imposition of a royal visit is the most common claim), but the point is that exactly the same tales are told, only the name of the village is different.

I don't doubt that you could find exactly the same tales in other parts of the UK & Northern Europe at least (everywhere has somewhere that is the butt of all the Stupids jokes!). As I said in my first post in the thread, stories get adapted to local colour. There's a class of folk tales known as wonder tales; there, perhaps, a storyteller would keep them foreign & exotic (although even that's not true, since you can find tales with exactly the same motifs & motives right across Europe & into Russia). But with most tales, it's the most natural thing in the world for a storyteller to make them more, if not entirely, local if for no other reason than it helps to interest the audience!