one of the papers mentioned from the Royal Society
Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales
Sara Graça da Silva1 and Jamshid J. Tehrani2
1 Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition, New University of Lisbon, Avenida de Berna, 26-C, Lisboa 1069-061, Portugal 2Department of Anthropology and Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture, Durham University, Durham DH1 1LE, UK
Ancient population expansions and dispersals often leave enduring signatures in the cultural traditions of their descendants, as well as in their genes and languages. The international folktale record has long been regarded as a rich context in which to explore these legacies. To date, investigations in this area have been complicated by a lack of historical data and the impact of more recent waves of diffusion. In this study, we introduce new methods for tackling these problems by applying comparative phylogenetic methods and autologistic modelling to analyse the relationships between folktales, population histories and geographical distances in Indo-European-speaking societies. We find strong correlations between the distributions of a number of folktales and phylogenetic, but not spatial, associations among populations that are consistent with vertical processes of cultural inheritance. Moreover, we show that these oral traditions probably originated long before the emergence of the literary record, and find evidence that one tale (‘The Smith and the Devil’) can be traced back to the Bronze Age. On a broader level, the kinds of stories told in ancestral societies can provide important insights into their culture, furnishing new perspectives on linguistic, genetic and archaeological reconstructions of human prehistory.
There is the argument that plays are meant to be watched or at least listened to.. a new series of Shakespeare plays is being made in the form of an app that will offer the script and audio performance. The first will be released on April 23 - the four hundredth anniversary of the bard's death.
Naked ladies to the front is the third greatest line in world literature, and one of the top ten military orders in world history along with Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes (1775), England expects that every man will do his duty (1805), and Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead (1864).
Kullervo's tale is just one of 50 songs in the Kalevala, an epic of 22,795 verses telling the story of the Sampo, a magical object that bestows power on whoever possesses it. Tolkien used numerous plot elements from the Kalevala in his own novels - a powerful magical object, incest, battles between brothers, and orphan heroes setting out on quests.
"Kullervo is the origin story for Shakespeare's Hamlet - a young man whose uncle kills his father and on whom he wreaks a terrible vengeance," says Verlyn Flieger. "It is likely that Tolkien knew that Shakespeare had used this tale."
In The Silmarillion (begun in 1914, but only published after his death), Tolkien turns Kullervo into Turin Turambar, the warrior hero.
"I think he liked the Kalevala because it has both high and low elements," suggests Tolkien-biographer Prof John Garth from the University of Nevada. "There are clodhopping idiots, treated in a really down-to-earth, anti-heroic way. In Tolkien's own fiction, he creates totally different moods. The hobbits are very relatable, very friendly; and then the elves are much more remote."
The Qixi Festival was a few days ago (August 20th this year - one of those lunar calendar events that jumps around). Back in college I heard about it as the Magpie festival - an event involving a tale of the sky.