Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/133

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Reviews. 107

told it in their turn to their pupils, and thereby have been created in several localities centres of diffusion. The fellahs, thanks to this famous Egyptologist, have thus re-entered into possession of a tale of marvels that was the joy of their ancestors three thousand years ago, but had been long since forgotten.

The author does not arrive at any very definite results on the laws of the formation of folk-tales. His chapter on this subject concerns the building up of the tale from incidents or themes. It is probably impossible to get beyond a general statement of the influences operating to cause change, such as he had already developed during the discussions in the earher part of the book. A tale is at first localized ; its hero is individualized, its period is fixed. It is transmitted to another environment and it loses these characteristics, or some of them, altogether, or it substitutes other places, other names, and other periods. The themes of which it is composed undergo convergence with those of other stories ; they are exchanged from story to story ; some are lost, and others gained. We cannot now tell the influences which may have caused these changes and developments. M. van Gennep criticizes with effect the theories of previous writers, and he sums up the whole enquiry with a short but pointed discussion of the various interpretations of myth and folk-tale which the progress of anthropological knowledge has relegated to the lumber-room of antiquity.

The foregoing sketch of the contents of the book will suffice to call the attention of students to it. As will be seen, it is con- cerned not merely with technicahties : it includes at least a partial exposition of the author's theories on many other subjects of prime interest, — the origin of religion, the evolution of ritual, the utility of myth and ritual to the social organization, and their relations to one another, the development of the drama, the dance, the nar- rative poem, and the conte, and so forth. Adequately to criticize these would be to write a thesis. But whether we accept all his conclusions or not, it will be admitted that he has produced a most suggestive work that will repay careful consideration, and much of which embodies the most valuable results of recent research. It would have been more useful if provided with references to authorities cited, or at least a bibliography. The