«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday
Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna
The Face Behind the Text: A Collection of Russian Proverbs by an Unknown Collector
A general problem with old folklore materials is that we have texts, but very little information about the people behind the texts. A close reading of textual recordings can give pointers about the sort of person that produced them. Sometimes it is possible to compare texts with others gathered from the same region, whereas at other times further parts of the same text may afford the only point of comparison.
One such investigation, based on analysis of comparison of texts, is Matti Kuusi's monograph, Songs and Charms of Maria Luukka (1983). Through textual comparison, Kuusi sought to explain Maria Luukka's status in her home district of Western Ingria, on the south coast of the Gulf of Finland close to the present eastern border of Estonia: Did a song school form around her, and were there any other comparable schools? As Kuusi wrote, "What is to be inferred about the singer on the basis of the rich repertoire, about whom otherwise little is known?" (1983:15). For although little is known of Maria Luukka as a person, much folklore was recorded from her, and the folklore of her surrounding area has also been well recorded. Kuusi therefore had a "thick corpus" at his disposal (cf. Honko, 1998:67).
A second comparable investigation is Ulf Palmenfelt's doctoral thesis, Per Arvid Säves möten med människor och sägner (1994). Per Arvid Säve, who worked on Gotland, was a folklore...
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