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Morphology of the Folktale (Publications of the American Folklore Society) Paperback – June 1, 1968

ISBN-13: 978-0292783768 ISBN-10: 0292783760 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 2nd edition (June 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292783760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292783768
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Propp's work is seminal...[and], now that it is available in a new edition, should be even more valuable to folklorists who are directing their attention to the form of the folktale, especially to those structural characteristics which are common to many entries coming from even different cultures. (Choice)

It was primarily Claude Lévi-Strauss who made Propp's book popular outside the small circle of Western Slavicists: he immediately recognized the importance of Propp's methodology not only for the study of the fairy-tale, but generally for the study of narrative folklore. [Lévi-Strauss] expressed his admiration for all those”'who for a long time have been Propp's successors without knowing it." (Times Literary Supplement)

Review

Morphology will in all probability be regarded by future generations as one of the major theoretical breakthroughs in the field of folklore in the twentieth century. (Alan Dundes)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Nevertheless, this is not the best edition you can find.
Yevgeniy
It is, admittedly, a hard read and a dense read, quite dry as is strictly necessary for clarity in a difficult analysis.
William Alexander
One will want to use this book over and over again if one studies the structure of literature.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an attempt to work out the underlying structural patterns (types of characters, what they do, how they are ordered) of Russian folktales, based on classic collections made in the nineteenth-century. If you are fortunate enough to have read a large collection of such stories -- preferably in translation, not "retold by ..." -- you will soon see the point of Propp's argument. Other European, and some non-European, traditions provide an almost equally good starting point, although the examples often are not so close as to be immediately convincing. Ideally, "Morphology of the Folktale" would be bound with at least a selection of the Russian folktales Propp analyzes, but this does not seem likely to happen.

Taken by itself, however, Propp's exploration is going to seem both dry and confusing. Try to imagine a book about the five-act structure of Shakespeare's tragedies being read by someone who had never seen or read a play before, and you may understand the problem.

Although Propp's exposition sometimes seems labored, he presents a convincing case that at least some oral prose narratives are built up of a stock of situations and events which can be slightly reordered, multiplied, and otherwise complicated, but amount to a "language" (a vocabulary, grammar, and syntax) of story-telling. This puts a new light on the problem of the distribution of folktales, and how they develop variants, two of the great issues of folklore studies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Despite its origins in a single body of oral literature, Propp's methods have been applied to other literature with known or suspected oral roots, sometimes with slightly contradictory results. I know of at least two different Proppian analyses of "Beowulf," for example.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This seminal work is essential for an understanding of structuralist theory and the theory of folklore. It differs from the psychological view of the folktale in its descriptive ability. This theory is based on objective description and sytagmatic conjunction and complementation. Because of that, it is more applicable and flexible than any psychological dissection. Also, two people will reach roughly the same conclusions with this method- something impossible with a psychological approach. This is excellent for anyone interested in attacking the down and dirty working parts of a narrative.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is the first work to systematically characterize and describe a corpus of folktales. It includes a list of possible plot twists, in their correct chronological order for any story, and numerous examples from actual Russian fairy tales. This translation in particular reads well and makes a point of not departing from the text's literal meaning in any significant way. I would highly recommend this work for anyone interested in folktales or oral literature in general.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Neo on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't buy this version. They cut out the Goethe lines that headed the chapters that Propp intended for meaning but which the unimaginative editors decided were "non- essential"!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By cheshirsky on May 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a screenwriter. And I find that Vladimir Propp's structure works great for my stories. Have a look at it and try to apply it to any modern movie:

1.. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced);
2.. An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'go to this place');
3.. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale);
4.. The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain);
5.. The villain gains information about the victim;
6.. The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim);
7.. Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy;
8.. Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, comits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
9.. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
10.. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action;
11.. Hero leaves home;
12.. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);
13.. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against them);
14..
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yevgeniy on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you buy this book you already know what you need it for and what it is about (just read the title).
A must-have for literature students.

Nevertheless, this is not the best edition you can find. The translation is not as precise as could be expected, trascriptios from Russian terms are made into the French phonetic system and stay unaltered in this edition.

Hope it helps.
Cheers
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