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Old 10-24-2008, 09:03 PM   #1
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Thompson, Stith: Tales of the North American Indians, v.1, 24 Oct 2008

This 1929 text comes to us from Sacred-Texts.com:
Stith Thompson, a Distinguished Professor of English and Folklore at Indiana University, anthologized these Native American tales from the ethnographic literature. His chief contribution to the field was his 'Motif-Index of Folk Literature', which is a cross-cultural index of themes that occur in folktales.

Reading through the traditional folk stories of Africa, Europe, and Native America, it becomes obvious that there are a broad set of motifs that are appear across geographic boundaries. Is this evidence of diffusion or something buried deeper in our cultural matrix that goes back to our common origins? This is still a mystery.

Stories where virtue is rewarded, evil step-relations plot against the rightful heir, anthropomorphic animals play out very human dramas, and so on, soon blur together. There are also stories with violent, brutal, bawdy or transgressive sexual elements. Not all folklore is suitable for children!

Westerners have been schooled by Shakespeare and TV sitcoms to expect that all stories will conclude in the final act with all of the loose ends tied up. This isn't always the case in the dream-like landscape of the folktale.

Some folklore stories seem to go nowhere, or end in a conclusion that seems unsatisfying, or have repetitive episodes that appear to be added just to fill out the story. In modern literature, a story must either be a tragedy or a comedy; most folklore has elements of both. Folklore often violates our modern expectations of how a story should be shaped, while keeping us riveted, wanting to hear more. In this way folklore is much closer to real life, where 'stuff' happens, at random and often without any apparent internal logic.

Stith Thompson's contribution was to attempt to make sense of this mass of material. This seminal book, which appears on the Internet for the first time at Sacred Texts, is his take on the Native American folklore corpus.
Unfortunately, this text is missing the extensive notes which, in part, tied mythological motifs of the 96 included tales with similar tales from other cultures.

The Sacred Texts site states that the work is believed to have entered the public domain in 1959 because the copyright was not renewed. This particular text was scanned from the 1966 Midland paperback edition which did not include a copyright notice.

EDIT: I have updated this ebook to remove the distracting endnote marks since the endnotes are not included (I'm still looking for a copy with the maps, motif discussions, etc.). I also expanded the table of contents to include a separate link for each of the 96 tales. There were 35 downloads of the previous version.

Last edited by vivaldirules; 12-27-2008 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:31 PM   #2
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EDIT: I have updated this ebook to remove the distracting endnote marks since the endnotes are not included (I'm still looking for a copy with the maps, motif discussions, etc.). I also expanded the table of contents to include a separate link for each of the 96 tales. There were 35 downloads of the previous version.
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