Cover image for Encyclopedia of folklore and literature
Encyclopedia of folklore and literature
Rosenberg, Bruce A.
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1998]

Physical Description:
xli, 766 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Contains entries for authors, titles, national literatures, themes, and motifs in literature and folklore.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN41 .E48 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This work is an award winning compendium of authors, concepts, motifs, characters, themes, works, and movements associated with folklore and literature from around the world.

âeuro;¢ Provides an informatiove introduction

âeuro;¢ Includes extensive cross references and a bibliography

Author Notes

Mary Ellen Brown , PhD, is professor of folklore at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN and editor of the Journal of Folklore Research .

Bruce A. Rosenberg , PhD, is professor of American studies and English at Brown University, Providence, RI.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Coeditors Brown and Rosenberg successfully address an enormous topic in this single volume. They've assembled alphabetically arranged, signed essays from more than 130 independent and university scholars from around the world to provide access to a vast field of study. The goal is to examine the relationship between folklore and literature. Many of the 350 entries treat individual authors like Chinua Achebe, in whose fiction folklore serves "as a reminder of identity, as a call to identity, and as a basis for a revitalized nation." Each contributor brings his/her own knowledge and experience to the analysis of the subject of an entry; however, there is remarkable continuity and easy readability among them. Not all entries are laudatory. The one on Maya Angelou is an objective view of an author whose work has been praised and criticized but who has enlarged "a personal narrative to encompass the rich and complex experience of African America." Margaret Atwood, Geoffrey Chaucer, Bob Dylan, and Herman Melville are among the others discussed. Coverage ranges from Aesop to modern times. In addition to authors, there are entries for scholars, theorists, and teachers. Forms such as archetype, epic, fakelore, and riddle have entries, as do specific works, such as Canterbury Tales, Iliad, and King Lear. Latino, Native American, Scandinavian, Scottish, and Russian literatures receive attention, along with genres of tales specific to certain cultures, such as the tall tale of the U.S., the romancero of Spain, the minnesang of Germany, and the jataka of Japan. Various methods of studying literature and important themes (Robin Hood, trolls, wandering Jew) receive treatment. There are a few entries for Asian authors and themes, but basically the work concentrates on European and Western themes, including classical Greek and Roman. Cross-referencing between entries is good, and each entry includes a brief bibliography. An introductory overview of folklore's relationship to literature is worthwhile as background material. The introduction is preceded by an alphabetical list of entries, and a list of entries by category (authors, works, scholars/movements, concepts/themes, themes/characters). The work done by influential folklorists Antii Aarne and Stith Thompson to identify recurring tale types and motifs is cited in brackets throughout the text. A number of the same topics are covered in other reference books on folklore. However, this volume adds something new by focusing on the complex ways in which folklore forms the basis of and continues to influence literature. It will serve as a handbook for undergraduate college students and the general reader, and is recommended introductory reading for all folklore collections.

Choice Review

Designed for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the role that folklore plays in forming literature, this encyclopedia's entries cover a selection of authors, works, scholars and movements, concepts and terms, and themes and characters. The entries, signed and arranged alphabetically, vary in length, each ending with a brief bibliography and cross-references to other entries. Entries are easily located with three modes of access: alphabetical, by category, and by a general index. The essays vary not only in length, but in quality; excellent essays, like those for The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet, provide a solid introduction to the role folklore plays in those works, but that for "Cinderella" is little more than an annotated bibliography and cannot compare with the intellectual insight found in the entry in Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, ed. By Maria Leach (1949). Since there is some duplication in essay subjects between this work and Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, ed. by Thomas A. Green (2v., CH, May'98), it might have been better to expand Folklore to a three-volume set that would include the present work. Although this title can be recommended because it fills a niche, it should be added to the shelf on which Funk and Wagnalls already sits. P. Mardeusz; University of Vermont