I am taking a poetry class this semester with colleagues in English and I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities and differences between our disciplines, what we decide to study and how we approach out materials. We overlap in many ways, but sometimes I’m surprised at how differently we think about literature. Although contemporary folklorists, like literary critics, also analyze aesthetic features of texts, we would never do so without knowing information about the text’s context, the author, and his or her intended audience. For folklorists, text doesn’t exist without context; texts are performed, not simply created. For the seminar paper, I chose a topic that would accentuate these ideas. Continue reading
My review of Jan M. Ziolkowski’s new critical edition of the bawdy medieval text Solomon and Marcolf appeared yesterday in the Journal of Folklore Research. This was a wonderful collection of medieval proverbs, folktales, and traditional lore. Read my review below, or at the JFRR webpage:
Few medieval texts offer such a rich repository of traditional lore as Solomon and Marcolf, which imagines a battle of wits between the biblical King Solomon and the bawdy folk hero Marcolf. Although the text has been reprinted often in its original Latin, Ziolkowski’s new critical edition is the first attempt to translate the original text since the sixteenth century.
In addition to his new English translation, Ziolkowski also includes the original Latin text, a thorough introduction, an exhaustive commentary, extensive textual notes, several indexes (including an index of motifs, proverbs, and tale type numbers), and a hefty bibliography. Also included is a number of appendices: one provides a chart mapping out manuscript variants of the dialogue section, and others provide supplemental texts, including an alternate beginning and ending, a number of sources and analogues, and a modern English translation (by Diana Luft) of a late sixteenth-century Welsh version of Solomon and Marcolf. The volume as a whole is a masterpiece of textual scholarship that should, despite its playful narrative content, be taken seriously by folklorists. Continue reading