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Storyology Essays in Folk-Lore, Sea-Lore, and Plant-Lore   By:

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STORYOLOGY:

Essays in Folk Lore, Sea Lore, and Plant Lore

by

BENJAMIN TAYLOR.

London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 1900.

To HER MEMORY IN WHOSE DEAR COMPANIONSHIP THESE PAPERS WERE WRITTEN

PREFACE.

The principal object of this Foreword is to inform the expert Folkloreist and the case hardened Mythologist (comparative or otherwise) that the following pages are intended for those who, being neither expert nor case hardened, come under that gracious and catholic term general reader. The writer addresses not the scholiast, but the ordinary person who likes to read about what he has not time to study.

Some portion of what is here printed has appeared in a once popular magazine now defunct. The author hastens to add, for the relief of the irreverent, that the journal long survived the ordeal of the publication. Nevertheless this book appears on its merits, or otherwise, and seeks no support from past attainment. Neither does it make any pretension to originality of matter or method, though it may, perhaps, contain one or two new ideas.

It is unnecessary to add that the publication is made only at the tearful entreaty of multitudinous friends. That, of course, is well understood among myth hunters.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

PREFACE vii

I. STORYOLOGY 1

II. THE MAGIC WAND 23

III. THE MAGIC MIRROR 41

IV. THE MAGIC MOON 58

V. THE DEVIL'S CANDLE 78

VI. THE SEA AND ITS LEGENDS 91

VII. MOTHER CAREY AND HER CHICKENS 104

VIII. DAVY JONES'S LOCKER 113

IX. SOME FLOWERS OF FANCY 121

X. ROSEMARY FOR REMEMBRANCE 137

XI. HERB OF GRACE 149

XII. THE ROMANCE OF A VEGETABLE 163

XIII. THE STORY OF A TUBER 176

XIV. THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD 188

INDEX 201

STORYOLOGY.

CHAPTER I.

STORYOLOGY.

I.

What is a myth?

According to Webster, it is 'a fabulous or imaginary statement or narrative conveying an important truth, generally of a moral or religious nature: an allegory, religious or historical, of spontaneous growth and popular origin, generally involving some supernatural or superhuman claim or power; a tale of some extraordinary personage or country that has been gradually formed by, or has grown out of, the admiration and veneration of successive generations.' Here is a choice of three definitions, but not one of them is by itself satisfying. Let us rather say that a myth is a tradition in narrative form, more or less current in more or less differing garb among different races, to which religious or superhuman significations may be ascribable. We say 'may be' ascribable because, although the science of comparative mythology always seeks for such significations, it is probable that the modern interpretations are often as different from the original meaning as certain abstruse 'readings' of Shakespeare are from the poet's own thoughts.

In their introduction to Tales of the Teutonic Lands, Cox and Jones declare that the whole series of Arthurian legends are pure myths. These tales, they say, can be 'traced back to their earliest forms in phrases which spoke not of men and women, but of the Dawn which drives her white herds to their pastures' the white clouds being the guardians of the cattle of the Sun 'of the Sun which slays the dew whom he loves, of the fiery dragon which steals the cattle of the lord of light, or the Moon which wanders with her myriad children through the heaven.' It is claimed that 'a strict etymological connection has been established' with regard to a large number of these and similar stories, 'but the link which binds the myth of the Hellenic Hephaistos with that of the Vedic Agni justifies the inference that both these myths reappear in those of Regin and of Wayland, or, in other words, that the story of the Dame of the Fine Green Kirtle is the story of Medeia, and that the tale of Helen is the legend of the loves of Conall Gulban... Continue reading book >>




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