Folktale is a wide, inclusive term that spans many traditional narratives in oral and literary forms. The main three sorts of folktales are myths, legends, and fairy tales. Märchen is the German term for fairy tales. Many folktales combine elements from here and there and defy classification. They contain a vast body of jokes and anecdotes that circulate in any society, and are widely spread.
Urban legends are contemporary stories that are set in an urban environment and reported as true (sometimes in newspapers). Such concocted tales may revolve around about urban living, including privacy, death, decay, revenge, and vermin. Many of them contain patterns and motifs that reflect legends rather than solid truths.
It also happens that gods of old myths reappear in the guise of heroes in some folktales, and even that such derived heroes are thought of as gods too, as when ancient Vedic myths of Indra appear in among stories of Krishna.
There are good reasons to question what functions the different sorts of folktales could have in the society that has taken them to heart. To amuse and entertain are two functions, and forming attitudes that are thought highly of, is another and deep-going one. The forming of conform attitudes serves the transmission of many sides to a culture, holds Jerome Bruner and others. [More]
Aarne, Antti. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. Translated and Enlarged by Stith Thompson. 2nd rev. ed. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia / FF Communications, 1961.
Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood, 1987.
Hodne, Ørnulf. The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1984.
Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1-3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.
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