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View Poll Results: How do you classify folklore, mythology, and legends?
Fiction 5 29.41%
Nonfiction 2 11.76%
Other 2 11.76%
It depends 8 47.06%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-23-2022, 04:04 AM   #1
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Folklore & Mythology: how to classify?

While sorting through Calibre tags, I found that half of my books with various folklore, mythology, and legends were classified as fiction, and the other half as nonfiction.

I sent most of them to fiction, but that makes me curious how other people classify. Poll coming.
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Old 11-23-2022, 05:34 AM   #2
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An anthology of mythology without any commentary or exposition, would imo be fiction. Analysis or discussion of mythology or folklore would be nonfiction
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Old 11-23-2022, 07:07 AM   #3
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An anthology of mythology without any commentary or exposition, would imo be fiction. Analysis or discussion of mythology or folklore would be nonfiction
Yes, though there are people that claim to follow old religions of Norse or Celts, and to a lesser extent Egyptian, Greek, Roman, or Babylonian but most if not all of those current so-called neo-pagan are invented between Victorian era and 1950s. There are lots of books on physic powers & and spiritualism (Victorian), Wiccan (invented c. 1952), Tarot (18th C as divination, card games since c. 14th), Astrology (current system has mediaeval roots but dates to Babalonian times).

Defunct religions, Myth, legend, folktales etc are not all the same thing. Folktales and fairy tales are mostly oral fiction written down since "fairy tale" ("conte de fées" in French) was first ascribed to them by Madame d'Aulnoy in the late 17th century.
Some myths or Legends written down much earlier (Sumer, Akkad, Egypt, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse). The oldest Norse MSS are from versions written in Iceland (c. 13th or 14th C. and sent to Denmark). Some surviving Irish ones are as old as 10th C. or earlier and some from Bronze Age oral tradition (1800 to 500 BC in Ireland).
Some claim to be historical. A certain range of Irish MSS is actually a strange mix of historical and fictional events.

So I'd put most post 15th Folklore in Fiction or its own category.
Modern versions of long defunct religions or entirely modem ideas such as Scientology get their own category.
Actually documented old religions, or ones still practised go under "Religion".
Myth & Legend are not quite the same thing but I usually lump them together, or they would be under fiction. Some was written as history. c.f. some Arthurian stuff and Irish Book of Invasions.

Books analysing or cataloguing the above would be non-fiction, though Golden Bough and Robert Graves are very unreliable.

Fiction or Non-Fiction is thus a little to binary.

What's the difference between Folktales / Fairy Stories and Fantasy?
Fantasy is stories written from the start, not transcribed oral tradition, by a known author. It may be inspired by or based on older works.
Folktales and Fairy Stories are oral traditions collected and written down since the 15th C. This started in England maybe from 1490s and in France popularised by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy from 1690s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_d%27Aulnoy

Shakespeare and his contemporaries by 1590s were certainly using written sources of fairy tales or folktales as well as history, myth & legend.

Written stories regarded as myth and legend have existed since writing was invented. Gilgamesh was worshipped by the 21st century BC so there is an overlap between myth & legend and also history and religion. Thus binary fiction and non-fiction is misleading.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgam...Netherworld%22

Irish people created new mythos about early Christians in Ireland such as the three Irish Patron Saints Patrick (who did exist), Bridget (who might be a re-invention of the Celtic Fire Goddess) and Columba (the one with least myths). Patrick was never canonised and was adopted 1st in Armagh long after death for political reasons against Cashel and others. Became Patron Saint in about 16th (or 15th?) because Lent laws tightened and his Feast day is in Lent (17th March).
So I'd put most about Columba under non-fiction or history or religion, many books about St. Patrick under fiction and almost everything about St. Bridget under Fiction (or myth & Legend).
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Old 11-23-2022, 06:16 PM   #4
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I go with fiction. Even those books that have some commentary I mostly got for the stories rather than the commentary, so it gets categorised according to how I will most likely to try to find it.
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Old 11-23-2022, 06:19 PM   #5
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I would say it depends on the books. There's no hard and fast genre.
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Old 11-24-2022, 07:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Robin View Post
An anthology of mythology without any commentary or exposition, would imo be fiction. Analysis or discussion of mythology or folklore would be nonfiction
I would do this too, although Fraser’s Golden Bough (very long) I would struggle to firmly categorise.
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Old 11-24-2022, 01:25 PM   #7
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I would do this too, although Fraser’s Golden Bough (very long) I would struggle to firmly categorise.
It's meant to be a scholarly work, though many inc myself would disagree with a lot of his connections. It's contentious content non-fiction. The 1960s "Chariot of the Gods", totally debunked by 1970s is a worse example as it's presented as non-fiction, as research, but it's as made up as Howard's fictional pasts that's the settings for Kull and Conan.
It's why I say that Fiction and Non-Fiction is too binary.
Also add all the books on other subjects published as non-fiction but regarded as fiction by anyone rational, apart from Religious books which can be perfectly factual analysis of Holy Books (thus non-fiction), but the Holy Books are of contentious authenticity to many. Even Believers or actual religions that use the same "Holy Book" may not take it in the same light.
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Old 11-24-2022, 06:57 PM   #8
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The Bible (does not matter the version) is fiction.
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Old 11-26-2022, 08:06 PM   #9
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You don't have to go into the weird, wonderful or speculative works to get odd fiction and non-fiction cross overs.

Most of Ion Idriess's works I find hard to classify. This site says:
Quote:
He authored more than 50 books over 43 years from 1927 to 1969 - an average of one book every 10 months. These could be loosely described as "Australiana", but that one word can cover a multitude of topics. He wrote books of travel, recollection, biography, history, anthropology and futurology. None of these were fiction, but all were written in a narrative, "story" style. Many of the historical works interwove documented and oral history with cultural research and imagination.
So they're suggesting it was non-fiction written with imagination? Certainly some were great stories.

I guess most true-crime genre falls into the same thing: fictional accounts of real events ... even if sometimes the real and imagined parts get mixed and matched to suit the story so it becomes impossible to work out which is which. And if you don't know which bits are real, is it really non-fiction?

Then you get the step out from non-fiction where the story is "inspired by" the real events.

Of course, as suggested above, the problem is non-binary: some books are not one or the other, they're both.

And while retailers may have to resolve this dilemma for others (to predict where people are going to look), for my own library I work on how I expect to look for the book.
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Old 11-27-2022, 06:57 AM   #10
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The Bible (does not matter the version) is fiction.
Even atheists agree it has some historical content. It doesn't go under fiction or non-fiction; too binary. It goes under religion.
Also the Christian bit is rather different:
1) Luke & Acts, Matthew, Mark and John are accounts of an event. Some of it might be fictional, but even enemies agree Jesus/Yeshua/Joshua (same name) existed.
2) The Letters are probably not fiction, but collected letters.
3) The Revelation of John is seriously weird.

The Jewish Bible / Tenach has laws, wisdom writing, songs, prophets, some mostly historical books and the poetic pre-history in Genesis. From Abram /Abraham leaving Ur or Erech or wherever (Chaldees is from Septuagint and were later people) it's a more literal style of history in Genesis, though with little external confirmation. You can claim the 613 mitzvot or the Ten commandments have a fictional origin or invented by men if you don't beleive in God, or believe in a different god, but they are not fiction like Asimov's 3 laws or laws in the Wheel of Time because people have tried to interpret and keep them for over 2000 years. Maybe nearly 3000.

Certainly none of it is Fiction in the sense of "The Lord of the Rings" or any of the Scientology texts.
So certain Religious works get their own category: Religion.

So Fiction and non-Fiction is too binary.
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Old 11-27-2022, 02:15 PM   #11
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If it's in the form of a novel or short story I call it fiction. If it's a straight re-telling of folk tales and myths, or if it's an original classic text like the Bible or Beowulf I label it Non-Fiction.
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Old 11-28-2022, 02:20 AM   #12
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If it's in the form of a novel or short story I call it fiction. If it's a straight re-telling of folk tales and myths, or if it's an original classic text like the Bible or Beowulf I label it Non-Fiction.
Which then begs the question of when something moves from being a novel or short story into being a folk tale, myth or classic. Not arguing, just observing.
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Old 11-29-2022, 11:50 AM   #13
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Interesting question. I said it depends, primarily because of the mix of mythology and legend.
Mythology is, for the most part, an early attempt at science, explaining how the world works, so it would not be fiction. I think the Dewey Decimal system has this right.
Legend, suggests a story that's not considered to be true, so I might see those, sometimes, but not always, better classed as fiction.
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Old 11-29-2022, 09:56 PM   #14
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If it is a discussion about folklore, mythology, and legends such as Stephen Fry's Troy, I put it under non-fiction. If it is a story or series of stories, such as Circe by Madeline Miller, I put it under fiction. Bullfinches Mythology would also be non-fiction.

Last edited by Tarana; 11-29-2022 at 09:59 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 10:16 AM   #15
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Which then begs the question of when something moves from being a novel or short story into being a folk tale, myth or classic. Not arguing, just observing.
Folktales are regarded as being originally, or closely based on anonymous oral tradition.
Fantasy fiction has a known author and usually a printing date.
Classics can be any old text generally regarded as a Classic. It would now include Little Women, but originally only included Latin and Greek texts from before split of Roman Empire to East & West, which was a bit snobby and promulgated by "posh" schools and Universities who would still use only that definition.
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