Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 24, 1913.djvu/146

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1 30 Reviews,

Christianity liad not eradicated, and for which in itself it provided no obvious outlet. As the author puts it in another place, "our Middle Age was a period of collective creation out of an original stock ; that stock itself created ad hoc almost from top to bottom, and in it only a minority of the more ancient elements occur definitely as survivals."

The second series of the essays is quite as interesting as the first, and even more varied. Its topics range- from the Man with the Iron Mask to totemism and taboo, from the origin of alphabets and of dialects to the meaning of saintship considered in con- nection with the proposed canonization of Joan of Arc, that great and devoted h.eroine, let me say, to whom Englishmen as much as Frenchmen owe reverence and gratitude and what reparation they can make to her memory for the cruelty, the wickedness, and the bigotry of their former rulers in Church and State.

On the question of the historical value of tradition M. van Gennep discusses the tendency, pronounced in certain quarters of recent years, to accept traditions almost at their face-value as records of historical facts ; and he argues convincingly that it is first of all incumbent on students of folklore and ethnography to determine with as much rigour as possible within what limits and for what facts documents of popular origin may be utilized scienti- fically. In another essay he wages a successful controversy against the astral interpretation of myths and legends. The astral interpretation is little more than our old friend the Sun Myth. It has never been wholly abandoned in Germany; and a short time ago a new society was started at Berlin for an organized propaganda on behalf of the interpretation of myths as treating of the celestial bodies. The propaganda will hardly survive reason- able criticism. One of the longest essays in the volume is a defence of the comparative method of enquiry on the subject of taboo and totemism, reprinted with corrections and additions from the Revue de V Histoire des Eeligions. The controversy has somewhat changed its ground since the essay was republished. The methods of Dr. Graebner, rather than the purely historical method of M. Tousain, have taken the front of the battle. For all that the defence here presented of the comparative method as equally legitimate and necessary with the historical method