Mudcat Café message #4017753 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166858   Message #4017753
Posted By: Anne Lister
07-Nov-19 - 06:30 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old?
Subject: RE: Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old?
Raedwulf - what's all this about "I'm sure you already know"? And "people mostly never have travelled"? There is abundant evidence from all manner of sources that people have indeed travelled, and traded, and transmitted all manner of items, songs, stories, musical instruments and genes. I gave a specific example of a specific story written down by a specific 12th century writer, whose travels and written notes covered most of Europe. That doesn't, however, explain why the same story turns up as local folklore in lots of other places.
Lots of work has been done on motifs and there are various motif-index collections, with various specialisms. There is one, for example, specific to medieval romances. Finding motifs is one thing. Finding the full story is another. Even if you locate the motif, that doesn't explain what it's doing in the full story or how it came to be there.
The main point I was trying (obviously pointlessly) to make is that if a tale turns up as early as the 12th century, it's clearly older than often supposed. And if a story told in southern France - and it's not about stupid people, and it's not a story to explain a natural phenomenon - also turns up "collected" by folklorists in the 19th and 20th centuries in rural Ireland, and Brittany, and England, then it's fascinating to think of how it must have been passed along.
Just for consideration - my father's family in recent generations travelled from Yorkshire to London, and then to Wales. The origins of the family line seem to have been in Saxony, in Germany, in the medieval period. My father had a blood disorder towards the end of his life which is normally only found in Ashkenazy Jews, although we have gone back four hundred years on the family tree without spotting where it might have come into the bloodline. So please - yes, some people (not necessarily "a special few") travelled more than ten miles, more than 150 years ago. Some didn't. Some did. My family is rather unusual in that most of my forebears were actually English. My husband's family tree (extending beyond 150 years) includes English, Welsh and Choctaw, and one chap was transported to Tasmania.

By the way, I know a great number of storytellers, but none who use language like "forsooth" or "ne'ertheless".