By Gillian Bennett
Simply because they're so usually informed as information, modern legends strength us to reevaluate existence as we all know it. They confront us with macabre, exceptional, bad, or hilarious characters and occasions that appear to return instantly out of myths and folktales, yet are provided as today's occasions. the trouble is that it's not in any respect effortless to choose no matter if those frequently annoying tales will be taken care of as trustworthy or pushed aside as myth. The legends explored during this publication are the most strange, ugly, and politically delicate tales within the modern legend canon. At any second a physique can be invaded by way of noxious creatures, intentionally contaminated with lethal affliction, or raided to supply donor organs for in poor health foreigners. those are "winter's tales," the stuff of nightmares. during this ebook Gillian Bennett strains the cultural background of six legends, recognized in Europe and the United States from medieval instances to the current day. showing in broadsides, ballads, myths, old and sleek legends, novels, performs, motion pictures, tv indicates, and tales informed within the oral culture, those legends should not simply foolish stories which are pushed aside as trivial and unfaithful. They show a lot in regards to the matters and fears of lifestyle and reveal the bounds of data and tool within the glossy international. Gillian Bennett is the writer of "Alas, bad Ghost!": Traditions of trust in tale and Discourse and Traditions of trust: ladies and the Supernatural and coauthor of the normal legend bibliography and reader. She lives in Stockport, uk.
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Extra resources for Bodies: Sex, Violence, Disease, and Death in Contemporary Legend
Two well-told stories exemplify the difference between the scientific and the traditional approaches and show the dialectic at its 43 44 ANIMALS INSIDE liveliest. The first, the story of the wealthy Irish farmer we looked at earlier, is presented in folktale form in an 1890 collection of Irish Gaelic stories (Hyde 47–73 no. 49). The farmer’s description of his symptoms and the beggar man’s diagnosis are framed within a potent critique of regular medicine. When the farmer first starts to feel ill, he sends for the doctor: The doctor stripped him and examined him well, but saw nothing out of the way with him.
Bondeson suggests that belief in “animals inside” as a cause of disease did not survive in Europe after the early 1880s but was transported to the United States and thrived there until the end of the century (42–43). As the table in the appendix to this chapter shows, this is not quite accurate: of the fifty-one Bosom Serpent accounts collected after this date, twenty-six come from the United Kingdom, Ireland, or elsewhere in Europe, and though the 21 22 ANIMALS INSIDE events in some of the stories may have occurred well before the time they were recorded, many others are said to be contemporaneous.
Two years later, “A Londoner” revived the subject, enclosing a newspaper account of the “Escape of a snake from a man’s mouth” (“Newspaper Folk Lore,” Notes and Queries 1, no. 9: 29–30). A correspondent 41 42 ANIMALS INSIDE promptly wrote to correct his account: the creature was a worm, not a snake, and was swallowed in the East Indies where “such things are common enough” (“Newspaper Folk Lore,” Notes and Queries 1, no. 9: 84). Five other correspondents now joined in: three people sent factual letters discussing the phenomenon and whether any creature could survive in the environment of the human stomach; two people sent in amusing little dismissive anecdotes (“Newspaper Folk Lore,” Notes and Queries 1, no.
Bodies: Sex, Violence, Disease, and Death in Contemporary Legend by Gillian Bennett