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Wednesday reading experience #15

Read a book of myths, legends and/or folk-tales of your country or culture and see if you can find some familiar stories. Think about how these stories have influenced the literary heritage of your country or culture.

On a related note - it's fun to see how modern authors have spun their own versions of the old yarns. A fantasy novel that I read some years ago was, for example, a great modern version of the Sleeping Beauty* myth, and many romances are twists on one or another of the happily-ever-after myths (e.g. Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty). Another example is that all the names of the dwarves in JRR Tolkien's books and some of the names of other characters come straight out of Nordic mythology, and many of the stories he tells have a basis in myths or folk-tales. And of course one shouldn't forget all the novels based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

*Enchantment by Orson Scott Card


Dorte H said…
As an English teacher I have come across a number of short stories inspired by the fall of sin or other biblical stories. Many of them are well-written and great for class discussion and analysis.
Gallimaufry said…
I grew up reading about the myths and folk-tales of India: the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, Jataka tales (which speak of Buddha's life in his other incarnations), the Panchatantra.... (the last set is an incredibly amazing: a treatise on human conduct plus politics!)
It was only when I grew up I realised how they seep into the collective unconscious! Our entire moral structure seems to have been raised on these stories.
Bibliophile said…
Dorte, thanks for bringing up the Biblical stories. I am preparing a later entry about that subject and would love to get some suggestions from you to add to the list of literary works I am planning to use as examples.

Gallimaufry, my experience of the Sagas, Eddas and Icelandic folk-tales is similar. We have, for example, a large number of everyday expressions and sayings that come directly from the Sagas and Eddas, and some current superstitions and beliefs have been traced back through the centuries through the folk-tales and myths.
Dorte H said…
Tell me when you need them. I may be a bit busy the next few weeks, but if I don´t notice what is up here just come by my blog and jog my memory.
Rose said…
I love this idea! I think I'll look into some folk-tales from the U.S. and read them to my daughter at night. I'll also have to pick up the book you mentioned by Orson Scott Card. I didn't realize he'd done a modern take on Sleeping Beauty, but I'm a huge fan of his work.

Besides to compliment you on your wonderful reading ideas, I was hoping you would check out a new site I have published about Random Facts (linked to my name) and see if you might refer your readers to it. It would really be a great resource for all types of readers, and I'm trying to get the word out through blogs like yours. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me:

Bibliophile said…
Thanks, Dorte. I will not be adding the Bible entry for at least a couple of months yet. It's going to be a reading suggestion and a list of reading materials in English. I already have a number of books and some poems on my list, but I would appreciate any additions you can think of. My email is icenetla at (replace the " at " with @).

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