Once upon a time …and
In a certain country there lived … .Popular examples recount the supernatural adventures and mishaps of youngest daughters, transformed princes, mermaids , and wood fairies and elves (e.g., Cinderella , Rumplestiltskin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Hansel and Gretel). Animal tales abound in every culture; most of them are clearly anthropomorphic, the animals assuming human personalities. Such tales are classified according to three subdivisions: the etiological tale, or tale concerning origins (e.g., Great Hare and Coyote among Native Americans); the fable pointing to a moral (Aesop's fables); and the beast epic (e.g., Reynard the Fox ; see bestiary ). Myths, which are more difficult to define satisfactorily, treat happenings of a long-ago time; they generally concern the adventures of gods, giants , heroes , nymphs , satyrs , and villains, as well as etiological themes. There is also a rich tradition of African-American folktales. See also mythology ; monsters and imaginary beasts in folklore ; elf ; fairy ; goblin ; gremlin ; troll .
See S. Thompson, The Folktale (1946); V. O. Binner, American Folktales (1966) and International Folktales (1967); R. M. Dorson, America in Legend (1974); H. Courlander, A Treasury of African Folklore (1975), A Treasury of Afro-American Folklore (1976), and The Tiger's Whisker and Other Tales from Asia and the Pacific (1995); A. Clarkson and G. B. Cross, World Folktales (1984); H. L. Gates, Jr. and M. Tatar, The Annotated African American Folktales (2017).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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