Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/20

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4
The Grateful Dead.

Yet one who follows imperfectly the counsels of perfection may discover certain defects in Hippe's work. He neglects altogether Cosquin's hint as to the combination of the theme with The Water of Life and allied tales, thus leaving out of account an important element, which is intimately connected with the chief motive in a large number of tales. Indeed, his effort to simplify, commendable and even necessary as it is, brings him to conclusions that in some respects, I believe, are not sound. Though he states the essential points of the primitive story in a form[1] which can hardly be bettered and which corresponds almost exactly to the one that I have been led to accept from independent consideration of the material,[2] he fails to see that he is dealing in almost every case, not with a simple theme with modified details but with compound themes. Thus he starts out with the "Sage vom dankbaren Toten und der Frau mit den Drachen im Leibe"[3] and explains all variations from this type either by the weakening of this feature and that or by the introduction of a single new motive, the story of The Ransomed Woman. He would thus make it appear[4] that we have a well-ordered progression from one combined type to various other combined and simplified types. Such a series is possible without doubt, but it can hardly be admitted till the interplay of all accessible themes, which have entered into combination with the chief theme, is investigated. Hippe passes these things

  1. P. 167. "Ein Jtingling zeigt sich menschenfreundlich gegen die Leiche eines Unbekannten (indem er dieselbe vor Schimf bewahrt, bestattet, etc.). Der Geist des Toten gesellt sich darauf zu ihm und erweist sich ihm dankbar, indem er ihm zu Reichtum und zum Besitze des von ihm zur Frau begehrten Mädchens verhilft, jedoch unter der Bedingung, dass er dereinst alles durch ihn Gewonnene mit ihm teile. Der Jüngling geht auf diesen Vertrag ein, und der Geist stellt sich nach einer gewissen Zeit wieder ein, um das Versprochene entgegenzunehmen, verlangt aber nicht die Hälfte des gewonnene Gutes, sondern die der Frau. (Schluss variabel.)"
  2. See p. x. above.
  3. P. 180.
  4. See his scheme on p. 181.