CE -- Anthropology

Großes Lexikon der Bestattungs- und Friedhofskultur: Wörterbuch zur Sepulkralkultur [Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Burial and Funeral Practices: Dictionary of Sepulchral Culture]. Ed. Reiner Sörries for the Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur Kassel. Braunschweig: Thalacker. 25 cm. [03-1-227]

Vol. 1. Volkskundlich-kulturgeschichtlicher Teil: von Abdankung bis Zweibestattung [Folklore and Cultural History Section: From A (Abdankung = Funeral Service) to Z (Zweibestattung = Double Burial)]. 2002. 414 p. ill. ISBN 3-87815-173-

This is the first volume of a projected five-volume work dealing with all aspects of death, funerals, and burial practices. This volume focuses on the cultural-historical and folklore aspects of the topic and contains over 900 individual entries of varying length, most of which include bibliographies of recently published material in German. Historically, encyclopedias have paid relatively little attention to this topic, and this work promises to become an indispensable resource for libraries with folklore, cultural history, or theological collections. [wh/ldl]

Sammler und Sammlungen von Volkserzählungen in Schleswig-Holstein [Collectors and Collections of Folktales in Schleswig-Holstein]. Hannelore Jeske. Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2002. 563 p. 24 cm. ISBN 3-529-02491-0: EUR 28 [03-1-228]

In her justification for this work the author notes that the collectors of folktales have preserved much that would otherwise be lost, although not without exerting their own influence on form and content of the material; and that through their selective and formative influence they have become actors themselves in the transmission of folktales. Further, in a chapter surveying the history of German folktale collections she outlines the dilemma that there exists no complete overview of German-language collecting and collectors, nor is there anything approaching a complete specialized bibliography on the topic. This work is a contribution to filling this need at least for the Schleswig-Holstein area.

Before treating the Schleswig-Holstein region specifically the author provides a review of collectors and collections for Germany as a whole. In the chapter “Sammler und deutschsprachige Sammlungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert” [Collectors and German-Language Collections in the 19th and 20th Centuries] she reviews 850 folktale publications and presents brief characterizations of 351 collectors, as well as concise descriptions and evaluations of each collection examined. In making her evaluations the most important criterion for the author is the “orality” of the transmission: Was the material transcribed from a direct oral source, from published materials, from manuscript materials? To what extent does the printed text reflect the original oral source? What does the reader learn about the narrator? The brief characterizations of each collection provide an outstanding compendium of primary literature on Germanlanguage folktales. A librarian considering acquisition of a fairy tale or folktale reprint can get a clear idea its scholarly value by consulting this one source.

The work’s main section treats individual Schleswig-Holstein collectors, whom the author divides into four categories: writers, local history researchers, scholars, and guardians of local culture. An extensive chapter is devoted to Wilhelm Wisser, the most important collector of the region. In a section discussing Schleswig-Holstein collectors in relation to Germany as a whole, chronology, gender, profession, motivation, as well as extent and intensity of collecting activity are analyzed. Statistical data extending over 150 years on the professions of collectors show an overwhelming predominance of teachers as collectors. A final bibliographic section is in two parts. The first part consists of exhaustive personal bibliographies for each collector. The briefer (15 pages) second part contains, arranged by collector, a chronological list of the publications in which each collector’s texts appeared. Even though it is not annotated, it provides a clear picture of the influence of each collector and demonstrates that printed collections are a major path in the transmission of folktales.

Although produced as the author’s dissertation (Univ. Flensburg, 2000), this work demonstrates such extensive research into source materials, thoroughness in treatment, and bibliographical documentation that it is nothing less than a full-blown handbook on the topic. With its exhaustive review of sources, its overview of folktale collecting, and its characterizations of a large number of collections for the entire German region, this work will be useful to folktale scholars beyond the borders of Schleswig-Holstein. [wh/jc]

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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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