Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I heard an old, old story . . .

The Smith and the Devil

Yesterday's blog entry mentioned that fairy tales may be much older than previously thought, and today's entry points to:
. . . [a] folk tale called The Smith and the Devil [that] was estimated to date back 6,000 years to the bronze age. The story, which involves a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the devil in order to gain supernatural ability, then tricking the evil power, is not so well known today, but its theme of a Faustian pact is familiar to many . . . . The author and academic Marina Warner . . . . said. "In the case of The Smith and the Devil, it's a cunning tale - the trickster tricked, showing a very ancient version of that defiance of difficulty. That capricious chance will play tricks on you, but you, with cunning, will be able to resist that. It's a kind of joke the audience shares to feel a little better." (Alison Flood, "Fairytales much older than previously thought, say researchers," The Guardian, January 20, 2016)
I suspect that readers familiar with my Bottomless Bottle of Beer tale will recognize why this tale of a blacksmith tricking the Devil catches my fancy. But how did the researchers determine the dating? Here's how:
The study employed phylogenetic analysis, which was developed to investigate evolutionary relationships between species, and used a tree of Indo-European languages to trace the descent of shared tales on it, to see how far they could be demonstrated to go back in time. (Flood, "Fairy Tales")
Alles klar? Well, not entirely . . .

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6 Comments:

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Mikey_C said...

It is good to see that the Grimms have been vindicated. As the Guardian article notes, there was an academic fashion for dating folk tales much later. Likewise, there was a view that many rural folk customs, once held to be surviving remnants of pre-Christian religious practices, were in fact not very ancient at all. Could this revisionism be about to be revised as well?

I would recommend Robert Holdstock's enthralling fantasy Mythago Wood as an imaginative use of the phylogenetic approach to narratives. It explores the question 'what was the first story ever told?'

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the info and recommendations!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:38 AM, Blogger Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr. said...

Fantastic answer! Just let it be original, and no needed to exaggerated, but we should respect for our individual in the Creativity Empowerment! After all, everything is vanity under the sun, well this is our character or attitude of the Satan the Devil into "Attention Deficit syndrome" , but we loved impressed by somebody else, and that's why Satanic Geniuses the truth is 666'Enlightenment University of the World! We'll have to be enjoyed the show, 666 Intellectual Inspired!

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Bones.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:04 PM, Blogger Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr. said...

Yes!666-Phylogenetic the Tree of Knowledge, and that is truth before Ancient and the first revolutionary the Fallen Angel of the eye openers, and the result of the Paradise Lost, and think about the Satan the Devil! He wanted to be god! And "Me First Attitude, he want to impress and attention, and his name was popular because he is pretending to be a "All Knowing " & Omniscient, but he never mention the Creator of the Universe!,And today we are following footsteps of Satanic Geniuses the Abysmal Suckered, but we are already prisoners of the 666 Intellectual Inspired by Satan the Devil who gave color to the world!

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

An unusual felix culpa, Bones!

Jeffery Hodges

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