Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

A Note on the Commentaries

When full information is available, each note consists of five sections: basic information; discussion of cultural, historical, or literary background; list of narrative analogues; folktale types; and folklore motifs.

Basic information includes the tale title, archival number, and names of its narrator and collector (recorder), as well as the time and place of its narration. The "Israel Place List (1970)" in the Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 1, 169–91, serves as a spelling guide for the names of villages and towns in Israel. The spelling of names of countries and cities outside Israel follows standard English usage.

The section on cultural, historical, or literary background of the tale draws upon scholarship in relevant disciplines. Many of the texts cited are in Hebrew. However, modern Hebrew books and articles often have a title page or an overleaf in English translation. In these cases, the English or any other European language title is listed in the notes and the bibliography, with an indication in brackets that the text is in Hebrew. The book title appears in transliteration followed by translation in parenthesis when no title in a European language is available.

The next section lists narrative analogues that are available in the IFA, listing the archival number, title, and country of origin of each parallel version.

The fourth and fifth sections, on folktale types and folklore motifs, offer research tools for comparative analysis. "Tale type" is a principal concept in folktale theory and classification method. It designates narratives that have independent existence in tradition, even though storytellers may use them in combination with other tale types. Their coherent occurrence in tradition by themselves attests to their independence. Initially conceived by Johann Georg von Hahn (1811–1868) as "formula"1 and later translated into English and considered as "story radicals" by S. Baring-Gould,2 the concept of "tale type" was established in folktale studies in 1910 in A. Aarne's Verzeichnis der Märchentypen (Types of the Folktale). The second (1928) and third (1961) editions of this book, revised by Stith Thompson, and the fourth (2004) edition, revised by Hans-Jörg Uther, made it an indispensable research tool.3 These indexes are the basic registrar of these types.

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