A LEGEND is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and demonstrating human values, and which possesses certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude . Legend, for its active and passive participants, includes no happenings that are outside the realm of "possibility," but may include miracles . Legends may be transformed over time, in order to keep them fresh and vital, and realistic . Many legends operate within the realm of uncertainty, never being entirely believed by the participants, but also never being resolutely doubted.
The Brothers Grimm defined legend as folktale historically grounded. A modern folklorist 's professional definition of _legend_ was proposed by Timothy R. Tangherlini in 1990:
Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs.
* 1 Etymology and origin * 2 Christian _legenda_ * 3 Related concepts * 4 Urban legend * 5 See also * 6 References
ETYMOLOGY AND ORIGIN
Holger Danske , a legendary character
_Legend_ is a loanword from Old French that entered English usage circa 1340. The Old French noun _legende_ derives from the Medieval Latin _legenda_. In its early English-language usage, the word indicated a narrative of an event. The word _legendary_ was originally a noun (introduced in the 1510s) meaning a collection or corpus of legends. This word changed to _legendry_, and _legendary_ became the adjectival form.
By 1613, English-speaking Protestants began to use the word when they wished to imply that an event (especially the story of any saint not acknowledged in John Foxe 's _ Actes and Monuments _) was fictitious. Thus, _legend_ gained its modern connotations of "undocumented" and "spurious", which distinguish it from the meaning of _chronicle _.
In 1866, Jacob Grimm described the fairy tale as "poetic, legend historic." Early scholars such as Karl Wehrhan (de) Friedrich Ranke and Will Erich Peuckert followed Grimm's example in focussing solely on the literary narrative, an approach that was enriched particularly after the 1960s, by addressing questions of performance and the anthropological and psychological insights provided in considering legends' social context. Questions of categorising legends, in hopes of compiling a content-based series of categories on the line of the Aarne–Thompson folktale index, provoked a search for a broader new synthesis.
In an early attempt at defining some basic questions operative in examining folk tales, Friedrich Ranke (de) in 1925 characterised the folk legend as "a popular narrative with an objectively untrue imaginary content" a dismissive position that was subsequently largely abandoned.
Compared to the highly structured folktale, legend is comparatively amorphous, Helmut de Boor noted in 1928. The narrative content of legend is in realistic mode, rather than the wry irony of folktale; Wilhelm Heiske remarked on the similarity of motifs in legend and folktale and concluded that, in spite of its realistic mode , legend is not more historical than folktale.
In _Einleitung in der Geschichtswissenschaft_ (1928), Ernst Bernheim asserted that a legend is simply a longstanding rumour . Gordon Allport credited the staying-power of some rumours to the persistent cultural state-of-mind that they embody and capsulise; thus "Urban legends " are a feature of rumour. When Willian Jansen suggested that legends that disappear quickly were "short-term legends" and the persistent ones be termed "long-term legends", the distinction between legend and rumour was effectively obliterated, Tangherlini concluded.
Main article: Legendary material in Christian hagiography
In the narrow Christian sense, _legenda_ ("things to be read ") were hagiographical accounts, often collected in a legendary. Because saints' lives are often included in many miracle stories, _legend_, in a wider sense, came to refer to any story that is set in a historical context but that contains supernatural or fantastic elements.
Giants Mata and Grifone, celebrated in the streets of Messina the second week of August, according to a legend are founders of the Sicilian city. The mediaeval legend of Genevieve of Brabant connected her to Treves .
Hippolyte Delehaye distinguished legend from myth : "The _legend_, on the other hand, has, of necessity, some historical or topographical connection. It refers imaginary events to some real personage, or it localizes romantic stories in some definite spot."
From the moment a legend is retold as fiction, its authentic legendary qualities begin to fade and recede: in _The Legend of Sleepy Hollow _, Washington Irving transformed a local Hudson River Valley legend into a literary anecdote with "Gothic" overtones , which actually tended to diminish its character as genuine legend.
Stories that exceed the boundaries of "realism " are called "fables ". For example, the talking animal formula of Aesop identifies his brief stories as fables, not legends. The parable of the Prodigal Son would be a legend if it were told as having actually happened to a specific son of a historical father. If it included a donkey that gave sage advice to the Prodigal Son it would be a fable.
Legend may be transmitted orally, passed on person-to-person, or, in the original sense, through written text. Jacob de Voragine 's _Legenda Aurea_ or "The Golden Legend" comprises a series of _vitae_ or instructive biographical narratives, tied to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church . They are presented as lives of the saints, but the profusion of miraculous happenings and above all their uncritical context are characteristics of hagiography . The _Legenda_ was intended to inspire extemporized homilies and sermons appropriate to the saint of the day.
The tale of the White Lady who haunts Union Cemetery is a variant of the Vanishing hitchhiker legend. Main article: Urban legend
The vanishing hitchhiker is the best-known urban legend in America, traceable as far back as 1870, but it is found around the world including in Korea and Russia. In the legend, a young girl in a white dress picked up alongside of the road by a passerby. The unknown girl in white remains silent for the duration of her ride, thanks the driver, and quietly gets out at her destination. When the driver turns to look back, the girl has vanished. In 1942, Beardsley and Hankey collected 79 written accounts of the legend.
* ^ Georges, Robert; Owens, Michael (1995). _Folkloristics_. United States of America: Indiana University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-253-32934-5 . CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ Norbert Krapf, _Beneath the Cherry Sapling: Legends from Franconia_ (New York: Fordham University Press) 1988, devotes his opening section to distinguishing the genre of legend from other narrative forms, such as fairy tale ; he "reiterates the Grimms' definition of legend as a folktale historically grounded", according to Hans Sebald's review in _German Studies Review_ 13.2 (May 1990), p 312. * ^ Tangherlini, "'It Happened Not Too Far from Here...': A Survey of Legend Theory and Characterization" _Western Folklore_ 49.4 (October 1990:371–390) p. 385. * ^ That is to say, specifically located in place and time. * ^ _ Oxford English Dictionary _, s.v. "legend" * ^ _A_ _B_ Harper, Douglas. "legendary". _Online Etymology Dictionary _. Retrieved 10 June 2013. * ^ "legendry". _ Merriam-Webster Dictionary _. * ^ Patrick Collinson. _Elizabethans_, "Truth and Legend: The Veracity of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs" 2003:151–77, balances the authentic records and rhetorical presentation of Foxe's _Acts and Monuments_, itself a mighty force of Protestant legend-making. Sherry L. Reames, _The Legenda Aurea: a reexamination of its paradoxical history_, 1985, examines the "Renaissance verdict" on the Legenda, and its wider influence in skeptical approaches to Catholic hagiography in general. * ^ _Das Märchen ist poetischer, die Sage, historischer_, quoted at the commencement of Tangherlini's survey of legend scholarship (Tangherlini 1990:371) * ^ Wehrhan _Die Sage_ (Leipzig) 1908. * ^ Ranke, "Grundfragen der Volkssagen Forshung", in Leander Petzoldt (ed.), _Vergleichende Sagenforschung_ 1971:1–20, noted by Tangherlini 1990. * ^ Peuckert , _Sagen_ (Munich: E Schmidt) 1965. * ^ This was stimulated in part, Tangherlini suggests, by the 1962 congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research. * ^ Ranke, "Grundfragen der Volkssagenforschung", _Niederdeutsche Zeitschrift für Volkskunde_ 3 (1925, reprinted 1969) * ^ Charles L. Perdue Jt., reviewing Linda Dégh and Andrew Vászony's essay "The crack on the red goblet or truth and the modern legend" in Richard M. Dorson, ed. _ Folklore in the Modern World_, (The Hague: Mouton)1978, in _The Journal of American Folklore_ 93 No. 369 (July–September 1980:367), remarked on Ranke's definition, criticised in the essay, as a "dead issue". A more recent examination of the balance between oral performance and literal truth at work in legends forms Gillian Bennett's chaprer "Legend: Performance and Truth" in Gillian Bennett and Paul Smith, eds. _Contemporary Legend_ (Garland) 1996:17–40. * ^ de Boor, "Märchenforschung", _Zeitschrift für Deutschkunde_ 42 1928:563–81. * ^ Lutz Röhrich , _Märchen und Wirklichkeit: Eine volkskundliche Untersuchung_ (Wiesbaden: Steiner Verlag) 1956:9–26. * ^ Heiske, "Das Märchen ist poetischer, die Sage, historischer: Versuch einer Kritik", _Deutschunterricht_14 1962:69–75.. * ^ Bernheim, _Einleitung in der Geschichtswissenschaft_(Berlin: de Gruyter) 1928. * ^ Allport, _The Psychology of Rumor_ (New York: Holt, Rinehart) 1947:164. * ^ Bengt af Klintberg , "Folksägner i dag" _Fataburen_ 1976:269–96. * ^ Jansen, "Legend: oral tradition in the modern experience", _ Folklore Today, A Festschrift for William Dorson_ (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) 1972:265–72, noted in Tangherlini 1990:375. * ^ _Literary or Profane Legends_. Catholic Encyclopedia * ^ Hippolyte Delehaye, _The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography_ (1907), Chapter I: Preliminary Definitions * ^ Timothy R. Tangherlini, "'It Happened Not Too Far from Here...': A Survey of Legend Theory and Characterization" _Western Folklore_ 49.4 (October 1990:371–390). A condensed survey with extensive bibliography. * ^ Bennett, Gillian. (1998). _The Vanishing Hitchhiker at Fifty-Five_. _Western Folklore _. Vol. 57, No. 1. pp. 1-17. * ^ Langlois, Janet L. (July–September 1983). "The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand". _The Journal of American Folklore_. 96 (381): 356–357. JSTOR 540959 . doi :10.2307/540959 . * ^ Georges, Jones, Robert, Michael (1995). _Folkloristics_. Indiana University Press. * ^ Fine, Gary Alan (April 1982). "The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand". _Western Folklore_. Western States Folklore Society. 41 (2): 156–157. JSTOR 1499791 . doi :10.2307/1499791 . * ^ Beardsley, Richard K; Hankey, Rosalie. (1942). _The Vanishing Hitchhiker_. _California Folklore Quarterly _ 1: 303-335. * ^ Beardsley, Richard K; Hankey, Rosalie. (1943). _A History of the Vanishing Hitchhiker_. _California Folklore Quarterly _ 2: 13-25.
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