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From Game to War and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore

From Game to War and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore

Alan Dundes
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    From Game to War and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore
    Book Description:

    Although folklore has been collected for centuries, its possible unconscious content and significance have been explored only since the advent of psychoanalytic theory. Freud and some of his early disciples recognized the potential of such folklorist genres as myth, folktale, and legend to illuminate the intricate workings of the human psyche. Alan Dundes is a renowned folklorist who has successfully devoted the better part of his career to applying psychoanalytic theory to the materials of folklore.From Game to Waroffers five of his most mature essays on this topic.

    Dundes begins with a comprehensive survey of the history of psychological studies of folklore in the United Slates. He then presents a striking analysis of the spectrum of behavior associated with male competitive events ranging from traditional games -- such as soccer and American football -- to warfare. He argues that all of these activities can be seen as forms of macho battle to determine which individual or team feminizes his or its opponents.

    This is followed by a study of the saga of William Tell, one of the most celebrated legends in the world. A novel treatment of the biblical flood myth in terms of male pregnancy is the penultimate essay, while the concluding article proposes an ingeniously imaginative interpretation of the underpinnings of anti-Semitism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6158-7
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. ONE The Psychological Study of Folklore in the United States
    (pp. 1-24)

    The academic disciplines of folklore and psychology in the United States emerged simultaneously but independently of one another in the nineteenth century. Although there were marginal psychologists and folklorists, or at any rate individuals interested in what we would now term psychology and folklore, at work in the first half of the nineteenth century, it was not until well into the latter portion of the century that professionalization of either discipline really occurred.

    The American Folklore Society was formed in 1888, modeled in part after the English Folklore Society, which had been established in 1878. The American Psychological Association was...

  5. TWO Traditional Male Combat: From Game to War
    (pp. 25-45)

    The history of folkloristics clearly demonstrates that the discipline is international in scope. Not only does folkloristic data cross geo-political boundaries—consider the distribution of most Aarne-Thompson tale types—but the small body of theory in folkloristics comes from a variety of national sources. From England we have James George Frazer, a Scot actually, whose analysis of homeopathic and contagious magic continues to be fruitful; from France we have Arnold van Gennep, whose classic study of rites of passage revolutionized the study of custom and ritual. From Finland we have Antti Aarne’s concretization of the concept of tale type;...

  6. THREE The Apple-Shot: Interpreting the Legend of William Tell
    (pp. 46-77)

    The legend of William Tell is almost certainly one of the best known stories in the world. Who has not heard or read of the brave Swiss archer who defied the standing order of the Austrian puppet-governor Gessler to pay his respects to a hat sitting on top of a long pole? Enraged, Gessler demands that William Tell shoot an apple placed on Tell’s young son’s head. Reluctantly, Tell agrees to the trial, first putting a second arrow aside. After Tell succeeds in hitting the apple, he is questioned by Gessler about the second arrow. Tell confesses that if he...

  7. FOUR The Flood as Male Myth Of Creation
    (pp. 78-91)

    Questions of meaning are often eschewed in myth scholarship. A large number of the essays treating the flood myth consist of retellings of diverse versions of the narrative. A good many writings merely rehash the results of previous treatises, making little or no effort to interpret the possible significance of flood myth texts. Frazer, for example, after citing 250 pages of flood myths, concludes; “On the whole, then, there seems to be a good reason for thinking that some and probably many diluvial traditions are merely exaggerated reports of floods which actually occurred, whether as the result of heavy rain,...

  8. FIVE Why Is the Jew “Dirty”? A Psychoanalytic Study of Anti-Semitic Folklore
    (pp. 92-120)

    In a 1942 essay “Antisemitism in Poland,” an anecdote said to have been current among American Jews of Eastern European origin tells of “a Jewish innkeeper who, during the Polish insurrection of 1863, risked his own life to save the life of a Polish nobleman who had taken refuge in the Jew’s cellar. On bringing down some food to the cellar the Jew forgetfully failed to uncover his head before the nobleman. The Polish aristocrat flew into a rage, stamped his feet and shouted, “Take off your hat, you dirty Jew!” (Mahler 1942:111).

    The linking of the adjective “dirty” and...

  9. Index
    (pp. 121-123)