Advertisement

Neophilologus

, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 99–114 | Cite as

Orality and Textuality: The Alexius Legend and the Brothers Grimm

  • Mary A. BrickerEmail author
  • Anne Winston-Allen
Article

Abstract

Da Silva and Tehrani’s (Roy Soc 2016,  https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150645) article using statistical phylogenetic analyses to trace the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales was widely reported in the popular press as proof that the Brothers Grimm were “right after all.” Its conclusion that some folktales had been passed down orally for 6000 years within individual Indo-European language families and had not spread geographically through trade or migration seemed to reassure readers that the beloved Grimms’ Fairytales were “authentic.” Findings of scholars who had argued for later origins and text-based transmission seemed to have shaken the foundations of beliefs held since childhood in a secure cultural patrimony. Other arguments that tales passed back and forth between oral and written forms, being told and retold in various versions were not comforting and tended to pit folklorists and philologists against one another. The present study seeks an alternative approach by conducting a case study of an actual Brothers Grimm tale that dates back 1500 years and can be traced in various media back to a fifth-century Semitic text. The investigation traces how the tale of The Holy Man of Edessa migrated from the Near East throughout Western Europe, being retold and rewritten in multiple languages as it was reshaped to appeal to different audiences. Examples reveal the role played by redactors who reshaped the story to address their own concerns along with those of audiences. It concludes that examining examples in specific historical and social contexts clarifies the process of how and why folktales developed as they did.

Keywords

Saint Alexius Brothers Grimm Religious Legends Kinderlegenden Orality and Textuality Folktale transmission Intermediality 

References

  1. Acta sanctorum quotquot toto orbe coluntur: vel a catholicis scriptoribus celebrantur, quae ex Latinis et Græcis, aliarumque gentium antiquis monumentis collecta…. (1868). (Julius, T. 4) J. Bolland, J. B. Carnandet, G. Henscenius (Eds.). Paris: Palmé.Google Scholar
  2. Amiaud, A. (1889). La legend syriaque de Saint Alexis: l’homme de Dieu. Paris: Vieweg.Google Scholar
  3. Berndt, G. M. (Ed.). (2009). Vita Meinwerci episcopi Paderbrunensis: Das leben Bischof Meinwerks von Paderborn: Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar. Munich: Fink.Google Scholar
  4. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, vol. 3, pp. 1898–1901. Brussels: Bollandist Society.Google Scholar
  5. Blau, M. F. (1888). Zur Alexiuslegende. Ph.D. diss. Universität Leipzig.Google Scholar
  6. Bott, H. (1963). Die Vorfahren der Brüder Grimm im Hanauer Land. In L. Denecke & I. M. Greverus (Eds.), Brüder Grimm Gedenken 1963: Gedenkschrift zur hundertsten Wiederkehr des Todestages von Jacob Grimm (pp. 23–47). Marburg: N.G. Elwert.Google Scholar
  7. Bottingheimer, R. B. (1987). Grimms’ bad girls & bold boys: The moral & social vision of the tales. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cazelles, B. (1991). The lady as saint: A collection of French hagiographic romances of the thirteenth century. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  9. Croce, B. (1925). Introduction to Il pentamerone, ossa la fiaba delle fiabe, by G. Basile. (2 vols.). Bari: Laterza e Figli.Google Scholar
  10. de Voragine, J. (1993). The golden legend: Readings on the saints (W. G. Ryan, Trans.). (2 vols.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. de Voragine, J. (2014). Legenda aurea. Goldene legende/Jacopo da Varazze. Legendae sanctorum. Legenden der Heiligen (2 vols.) B.W. Häuptli (ed. and commentary). Freiburg i. Br, Basel, Vienna: Herder.Google Scholar
  12. Engels, L. (2002). The West European Alexius legend: With an appendix presenting the medieval Latin text corpus in its context. In A. Mulder-Bakker (Ed.), The invention of saintliness (pp. 93–144). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Feistner, E. (2001). Legende, Märchen, Legendenmärchen. Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur, 130, 253–269.Google Scholar
  14. Flood, A., & agencies. (2016). Fairytales much older than previously thought say researchers. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/20/fairytales-much-older-than-previously-thought-say-researchers. Last accessed 10 July 2018.
  15. Goethe, J. W. (1949). “Alexis and Dora”. Gedichte: Mit Erläuterungen von Emil Staiger (3 vols.). (Vol 1, pp. 245–255). Zurich: Manesse.Google Scholar
  16. Graça da Silva, S., & Tehrani, J. (2016). Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales. Royal Society. 20 January 2016.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150645. http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/1/150645. Accessed 10 July 2018.
  17. Grimm, W. (1811). Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen. Übersetzt von Wilhelm Carl Grimm. Heidelberg: Mohr and Zimmer.Google Scholar
  18. Grimm, W. (1813; 1878). Letter to Ludowine von Haxthausen, 21 January 1813. Kassel. In A. Reisserscheid, (Ed.), Freundesbriefe von Wilhelm und Jacob Grimm, mit Anmerkungen (pp. 1–2.) Heilbronn: Henninger.Google Scholar
  19. Grimm, J. (1865–1890). Selbstbiographie. In E. Ippel & K. Müllenhoff (Eds.), Kleinere Schriften: Reden und Abhandlungen (Vol. 5, pp. 483–502). Berlin: F. Dümmler.Google Scholar
  20. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1812). Die beiden ältesten deutschen Gedichte aus dem achten Jahrhundert: das Lied von Hildebrand und Hadubrand und das Weißenbrunner Gebet. Kassel: Thurneisen.Google Scholar
  21. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1815). Lieder der alten Edda. Aus der Handschrift herausgegeben und erklärt durch die Brüder Grimm. Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung.Google Scholar
  22. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1819). Kinder- und Hausmärchen (2nd ed., Vol. 2). Berlin: Reimer.Google Scholar
  23. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1822). Kinder und Hausmärchen (2nd ed., Vol. 3). Berlin: Reimer.Google Scholar
  24. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1856). Kinder- und Hausmärchen (3rd ed., Vol. 3). Berlin: Dietrich’sche Buchhandlung.Google Scholar
  25. Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1987). The complete fairy tales of the brothers Grimm: Translated and with an introduction by Jack Zipes (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Bantam.Google Scholar
  26. Hamann, H. (1906). Die literarischen Vorlagen der Kinder- und Hausmärchen und ihre Bearbeitung durch die Brüder Grimm. In A. Brandl, G. Roethe, & E. Schmidt (Eds.), Palaestra: Untersuchungen und Texte aus der deutschen und englischen Philologie (Vol. XLVII). Berlin: Mayer & Müller.Google Scholar
  27. Haupt, M. (1843). Der heilige Alexius von Konrad von Würzburg. Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur, 3, 534–576.Google Scholar
  28. Heine, M. (2016). Warum die Brüder Grimm doch recht hatten. Die Welt. https://www.welt.de/kultur/article151369664/Warum-die-Brueder-Grimm-doch-recht-hatten.html. Accessed 10 July 2018.
  29. Holmes, L. M. (2005). Kosegarten’s cultural legacy: Aesthetics, religion, literature, art, and music. New York, NY: Lang.Google Scholar
  30. Hunt, T. (2005). The life of St. Alexis, 475–1125. In S. Fanous & H. Leyser (Eds.), Christina of Mark-yate: A twelfth-century holy woman (pp. 217–228). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Jolles, A. (1958). Einfache Formen: Legende, Sage, Mythe, Rätsel, Spruch, Kasus, Memorabile, Märchen, Witz (2nd ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  32. Kamenetsky, C. (1992). The brothers Grimm and their critics. Folktales and the quest for meaning. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kosegarten, L. G. (1810). Legenden (2nd ed., 2 Vols.). Berlin: Vossische Buchhandlung.Google Scholar
  34. Krausen, E. (1973). Alexius von Edessa, Mann Gottes. In E. Kirschbaum & W. Braunfels (Eds.), Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie (Vol. 5, pp. 90–95). Freiburg: Herder.Google Scholar
  35. Löffler, R. (1991). Alexius: Studien zur lateinischen Alexius-Legende und zu den mittelhochdeutschen Alexiusdichtungen. Ph.D. diss. University of Freiburg i. Br.Google Scholar
  36. Lord, A. B. (1960). The singer of tales. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Harvard studies in comparative literature 24).Google Scholar
  37. Martus, S. (2015). Die Brüder Grimm: Eine Biographie. Reinbek: Rowohlt.Google Scholar
  38. Massmann, H. F. (1843). Sanct Alexius Leben in acht gereimten mittelhochdeutschen Behandlungen. Quedlinburg and Leipzig: Basse.Google Scholar
  39. Mölk, U. (1976). Die älteste lateinische Alexiusvita (9/10 Jahrhundert): Kritischer Text und Kommentar. Romanistisches Jahrbuch, 27, 293–315.Google Scholar
  40. Odenkirchen, C. J. (1978). The life of St. Alexius: In the Old French version of the Hildesheim manuscript. Brookline, MA: Folia.Google Scholar
  41. Pächt, O., Dodwell, C. R., & Wormald, F. (1960). The St. Albans Psalter. London: The Warburg Institute.Google Scholar
  42. Paradiž, V. (2005). Clever maids: The secret history of the Grimm fairy tales. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  43. Peppard, M. B. (1971). Paths through the forest: A biography of the Brothers Grimm. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  44. Philippart, G. (1985). Legendar. In K. Ruh, et al. (Eds.), Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 644–657). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  45. Pöge-Adler, K. (2016). Märchenforschung. Theorien, Methoden, Interpretationen (3rd ed.). Tübingen: Narr, Francke, Attempto.Google Scholar
  46. Propp, V. (1923; 1968). Morphology of the fairytale. (2nd. rev. ed.) (L. Scott, Trans.). rpt. 1968, Austin: University of Texas.Google Scholar
  47. Rösler, M. (1933). Alexiusprobleme. Zeitschrift für Romanische Philology, 508–528.Google Scholar
  48. Scherf, W. (1988). Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: A few small corrections to a commonly held image. In J. M. McGlathery (Ed.), The brothers Grimm and folktale (pp. 178–191). Urbana and Chicago: U of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  49. Schupp, V. (2004). Vitae parallelae Kettenbrüder: Joseph von Laßberg und Werner von Haxthausen. Dem Donaueschinger Konrad Kunze zum 65. Geburtstag. Sonderdrucke (pp. 354–369). Freiburg: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität.Google Scholar
  50. Sebastian Brant (Ed.) (1510). Der Heiligen Leben: nüw getruckt mit vil schönen Figuren. Strasbourg: Grüninger.Google Scholar
  51. Starr, S. F. (Ed. and intro). (1972). Studies on the interior of Russia. By August von Haxthausen. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  52. Storey, C. (1987). An annotated bibliography and guide to Alexis studies (La vie de saint Alexis). Geneve: Droz.Google Scholar
  53. The St. Albans Psalter project. (2003). https://www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter/english/. Accessed 10 July 2018.
  54. Uther, H.-J. (2009). Classifying folktales: The third revision of the Arne-Thompson tale type index (FFC 184). Folklorefellow.fi.Google Scholar
  55. von Wilpert, G. (1969). Sachwörterbuch der Weltliteratur (5th ed.). Stuttgart: Kröner.Google Scholar
  56. Ziokowski, J. M. (2007). Fairy tales from before fairy tales: The medieval Latin past of wonderful lies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  57. Zipes, J. (1988). Dreams of a better bourgeois life: The psychosocial origins of the Grimms’ tales. In J. M. McGlathery (Ed.), The brothers Grimm and folktale (pp. 205–219). Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zipes, J. (Ed.). (2000). The Oxford companion to fairy tales: The Western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Zipes, J. (Ed and Trans.). (2002). The complete fairy tales of the brothers Grimm (3rd ed.). New York and London: Bantam.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages, Cultures, and International TradeSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA

Personalised recommendations