Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature and Mass Media
10. “Now I Sit Like a Rabbit in the Pepper” Proverbial Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 317
One of the unfortunate misconceptions in proverb scholarship has been the false notion that during the eighteenth century “the rationalistic temper found little to admire in proverbs” (Taylor 1931:173) and that there was a “general collapse of pro- verbiality” (Obelkevich 1994:230). Numerous proverb collections that appeared in various languages and as polyglot wisdom treasures are clear indications that there was no unnatural break in paremiological and paremiographical work (Bonser 1930; Mieder 1982–01; Moll 1958). It is simply not true that the so-called period of Enlightenment had no interest in oral traditions in general and in folk speech in particular. Despite its emphasis on intellectual and rational matters, this cultural period was not void of proverbial wisdom. The Age of Reason also had a popular side to it that was marked by a sincere interest in the teaching of morality, and the generational and experiential wisdom expressed in folk proverbs was indeed well suited for spreading common-sense ethics and virtues, both in oral and written communication. Little wonder that numerous proverb collections for didactic instruction appeared throughout Europe and in the United States. This was true for such authors as Cotton Mather, Abigail and John Adams, or Benjamin Franklin in colonial America and the f ledgling United States of the eighteenth century, and the continued use of proverbial language was equally wide-spread in the old world of Europe. Well-known authors like William Blake, Denis Diderot, Henry Fielding, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Now I Sit Like A Rabbit IN...
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