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Oral History

1983

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Full-Text Articles in Near and Middle Eastern Studies

The Idea Of Folklore: An Essay, Dan Ben-Amos Jan 1983

The Idea Of Folklore: An Essay, Dan Ben-Amos

Departmental Papers (NELC)

The concept of folklore emerged in Europe midway in the nineteenth century. Originally it connoted tradition, ancient customs and surviving festivals, old ditties and dateless ballads, archaic myths, legends and fables, and timeless tales and proverbs. As these narratives rarely stood the tests of common sense and experience, folklore also implied irrationality: beliefs in ghosts and demons, fairies and goblins, sprites and spirits; it referred to credence in omens, amulets, and talismans. From the perspective of the urbane literati, who conceived the idea of folklore, these two attributes of traditionality and irrationality could pertain only to peasant or primitive societies ...