Folklore1, as we find it now, is relatively a new discipline, more so in the data-rich developing countries, such as India. It emerged as a new field of learning in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Although studies covering oral traditions of the people of various cultures of the world did appear under different names in the past2, the present scientific term "folklore", almost accepted universally, is of English derivation and was, as is well known, coined by William John Thoms in 1846 3. "The term caught on and proved its value in defining a new area of knowledge and subject of inquiry, but it has also caused confusion and controversy" (Dorson, 1972 : 1), as folklore, more often than not, suggests both to the layman and the academician "wrongness, fantasy and distortion" (Ibid.). This was precisely due to the fact that oral traditions were not understood and studied properly. Emphasis on the written variety of literature which grew under the shade of the great paperwork empires of the urban cultures, did not permit scholars to even consider studying and understanding the meaning of such literary tradition that survived in orality. One need not remind that "myth" became a synonym for unreality, fantasy, and something which is false. These and other misconceptions remained there for a long time and ironically continued in countries that are rich in oral traditions and to a very great extent still live with such traditions, than those that do not share such a rich heritage. Another reason responsible for the perpetuation of these misconceptions was the utter lack of scientific understanding among the early scholars who championed folklore theories and various methods of studying oral traditions4. We shall deal with these and other important issues in detail in the following sections. Our endeavour in this brief introduction will be to show summarily the growth of folklore studies and survey the major theoretical advancements or conceptual framework of various schools that guide the folklorist in the analysis of folklore materials.
THE EARLY PHILOLOGISTS
One must be cautious in attributing any special significance to the date when William John Thoms coined the term "folklore", for the materials of folklore had been studied with vigor long before Thoms coined this term. An obvious example is the work of the Grimm borthers5, who are the real founders of science of folklore) if not the term) and whose remarkable work can hardly be ignored by any folklorist devoted to tracing the history of the growth of folklore studies and its impact on the present theoretical advancement.
Both Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm were primarily interested in the investigation of German language. Their interest in folklore materials, as can be evidenced by their earlier works, was subordinate to the investigations they were carrying out in the field of Germanic languages. In his philological investigations of Germanic languages, Jacob Grimm employed what is known as the "comparative method" in order to trace the history of the German language and its dialects. It was natural for his to use the same method for achieving similar goals in the area of German oral poetry and folk narrative. "If in the field of linguistics", writes Sokolov, "the coincidence of words, sounds and forms in various dialects of the German language, leads us back to a general Germanic parent language and the coincidence of these same elements in a series of several related languages leads us to an Indo-European parent language, then according to this same system of the 'comparative method', similar elements also in the field of folklore, in fantastic forms and subjects must also be treated as a heritage, which has come down to new peoples or their tribal branches from a common ancient ancestor" (1950 : 53).
In this way, comparative method, used in the area of diachronic linguistics (known then as "comparative philology") was applied to folklore especially oral narrative. The views of Grimm, based upon this theoretical assumption, on the nature and development of oral poetry and other German oral expressions, are setforth with some degree of detail in his German Mythology6 which inspired many contemporary European folklore scholars7 towards systematic explanation of Germanic myths and folktales; and folkloristic studies began to take shape. The entire conceptual framework of Jacob Grimm in the field of folkloristics gradually began to be known as "mythological theory"8 and was reshaped and developed later by scholars like Max Mu_ller into a strong and influential school. Being an authority on Sanskrit, a student of literature and a philologist, Max Mu_ller attempted to explain the rise of myths by applying the comparative method advanced by Grimm to the complex area of Greek and Indic mythologies; and based upon this methodology, Max Mu_ller did not only establish the original or "proto" forms of Germanic or Indic myths but went still further in an effort to explain the complex phenomenon of myth-creation.
THE SOLAR MYTHOLOGY THEORY
According to Max Mu_ller, myths are created by what he very characteristically calls the malady ("disease") of language, meaning by this term "the process of the gradual obscuring of the original sense of words, what we would now call - employing the terminology accepted in linguistics - the process of semantic changes in language" (Sokolov, 1950 : 57). Max Mu_ller begins with the assumption that the primitive man, particularly the ancestor of the Indo-Europeans, expressed his thoughts in words which possessed concrete meanings. He was not, at the stage of his development, able to think abstractly for the very reason that in his language there existed only concrete words. every object, every natural phenomenon received its name form some concrete and outstanding characteristic. But the same object could also be named from some other characteristic. On the other hand various objects and phenomena could naturally receive the same name because of the resemblance as to specific characteristics. According to this scheme, the primitive concrete language, so to speak, consisted entirely of metaphorical epithets and must have included a great many synonyms and homonyms. For example, both water and sun could be denoted by the term 'the shining one". So could be stars and the moon. This diversity and lack of stability in terms which in course of time must have, according to Max Mu_ller, produced a continually greater confusion of ideas, a kind of blurredness in the original sense of words and resulted in the so-called "malady of language" forming fantastic concepts about concrete realities of natural phenomenon. In this way were myths created.
In order to understand how concretely Max Mu_ller sketched the process of formation of myths, let us see the following example which he himself used more than once:
"Let us suppose that in the period of creation of myths some one said" 'the shining one follows after the burning one', wishing to express the thought: 'the sun follows after the dawn'. Let us further suppose that the word which meant 'the shining one' appears to be Aryan prototype of the Greek word Helios, 'sun', and that the word which has the meaning 'the burning one' is also the Aryan prototype of the Sanskrit word ahanâ, or dahanâ, 'dawn'. Let us suppose that the word corresponding to helios becomes confused with Apollo, a god who has features in common with the sun; let us suppose that the word which means 'the burning one' is transformed form some kind of word like ahanâ or dahanâ into Daphne and let us assume that a well known tree also bore the name of Daphne because it ignites easily. Once all these transformations had come about, and had then been forgotten, the Greeks found in their language the following expression: 'Apollo pursues Daphne'. They would have seen that Apollo is a word of masculine gender and Daphne of feminine gender. And in such a way they would have come to the conclusion that Apollo is a young god in love, pursuing the beautiful, chaste nymph Daphne, and that Daphne, fleeing from his persuit transformed herself, or was transformed, into a tree which bears the same name"9.
Without elaborating, suffice it to say here, that Max Mu_ller supported his hypothesis of myth creation by sketching four stages in the development of human thought and language; the "thematic period" (period of the formation of the roots and the grammatical forms of the language); the "dialectic period" (formation of the basic families of language); the "mythological period" (formation of myths); and the "popular period" (formation of national language) in which he emphasized that "words" or "terms" used by the "primitive man" while passing from one period to another, lost their original meanings due to diversity and lack of stability and created greater confusion of ideas and vegue explanations which resulted in the formation of myths as we saw in the above example.
Max Mu_ller's contribution instudying Indo-European mythologies, particularly in reconstructing their "proto" forms, has been highly productive in shaping the methodologies in folklore studies. But the assertions of Max Mu_ller on the "malady of language" as the cause of formation of myths could, however, not fulfill the requirements of a sound theoretical tool and was therefore discarded not long after its discovery. Consider the following remarks of Sokolov:
" no one will attempt to deny the well known facts that in the history of any given language, frequently a metaphor which has been understood literally or falsely, an interpretation of a common noun in the sense of a proper one, a confusion of synonymous expression or the presence of several words to designate the same object, have produced andnow can still produce legends and fantastic forms 10. but to trace the roots of all myths to the phenomena of the so-called 'popular etymology' of course is a thing that no one would do at the present time" (1950 : 59).
It is because of these and other reasons that Max Mu_ller's theories were abandoned very soon even by his devoted followers like Manhardt who acknowledge its fallibility openly. Nevertheless, the theories of Max Mu_ller seem to be "considerably broader"11 in spite of all its "methodological unreliabilities"12.
THE DIFFUSIONISTS : THEORY OF BORROWING
Towards the middle of the nineteenth century when "mythological theory" was getting firmly established in Europe, Max Mu_ller's Chips13 was "gracing the parlor tables of thoughtful Victorians' and was "distracting grooms on their honeymoons"14, Theodore Benfey, a German Indologist, inspired by Max Mu_ller's theories and their atomistic and diffusionistic essence, was translating the Pan?catantra pointed out striking similarities between the Sanskrit and European tales. Resemblance of the subject, in Benfey's opinion, is caused not only by genetic relationship of the peoples, as believed by Max Mu_ller and his followers, but also by the cultural and historical connections or borrowing which takes place between them. This borrowing he attributes to migration (hence the name "migrational theory") 15 of populations by normal wonderings, wars, conquests, etc. Benfey believed that the "basic reservoir from which the European peoples drew material for poetic creations was seen to be ancient India" (Sokolov, 1950 : 79). He did not only point out the thematic similarities of tales (which is modern jargon could be called similarities of motifs) but also traced the geographical roots, and to some extent the history of such tales. According to him such tales traveled from India to Mediterranean sea, to the Far West, to Spain, to Greek archipelago and finally to Europe. It should however be remembered that following the diachronic line of investigation of his contemporary scholars, Benfey founded his theory on the atomistic logic, so central to the diachronic type of investigation, by which the entire oral tale genre of Europe could be reduced to some basic atom from where the tales could have diffused and traveled to the peoples of different continents and counties genetically unrelated but historically related. The source of this atoms, according to Benfey, had been India. It is interesting to note that while Benfey's argument that India is the source of almost all European tale genres, could not be proved beyond some fragmentary evidences, his theoretical premise that diffusion of oral tales or other forms of folklore from one genetically unrelated culture to another has by and large sustained the thrusts of later theoretical advancement in folkloristic which, however, are more based on the concept of polygenesis rather than monogenesis.
However, Benfey's theory had for reaching influence on the folkloristic studies of the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. In the first place it provided support to the historical reconstruction methodology of Max Mu_ller with another theoretical and also methodological shield, i.e., diffusion in genetically non-related cultures. It also inspired a group of Scandinavian scholars, particularly Finnish, to undertake the tedious task of finding out the origin, history and the travel routes (in terms of geographical situations) of tales. This subsequently resulted in the founding of the most famous, and to some extent formalistic, school in folklore studies known as the "historical-geographical" or more popularly "Finnish school"16.
THE ANTHROPOLOGICALOGISTS: POLYGENESIS
At the time when Max Mu_llerian thought and his theoretical frame work about mythology were flourishing, Europe including Russia was undergoing fast technological changes resulting in the betterment of industry, economy and transportation facilities. These changes, it seems, were also bringing in slow and gradual changes in the manner European mind thought. Prompted by these changes, geographers, ethnographers, philologists and folklorists undertook long journeys to study the near and distant lands, the people who inhabit them, their economy, mode of life, customes, language and creative arts, etc. These academic expeditions discovered striking resemblances in the oral traditions of the people of different lands hitherto not studied by scholars. These resemblances could neither be explained in terms of genetic relations of different people not their migrations or the borrowings they had made form each other. In other words, these new discoveries were not fitting into the existing theories which stemmed from the contemporary European thinking. It was therefore imperative to seek new explanations of these remarkable cultural similarities, which in turn meant deviation from the existing style of thinking. An English ethnographer Tylor and his Scotch follower Andrew Lang explained this peculiar phenomenon, unknown hitherto, by recourse to, what they called the anthropological evolution of mankind which rejected atomistic and diffusionistic explanations and offered polygenesis (multiple origin) as a possible explanation to the phenomenon of multiple existence of cultural artefacts17. According to this notion, a cultural artefact or an item of folklore could have originated at two or more different unrelated places independently at the same time or at different times, but under similar conditions. This notion was however based on the fact that scholars began realizing the existence of the universal human psyche and human behaviour. These and other views were consequently known as the views of the "anthropological school". On the basis of the vast amount of data which Tylor and his colleagues had collected on the mode of life, views and the creative work of the most diverse peoples of the world, they came to the conclusion that all people reveal a great resemblance in their mode of life, customs and their creation of religious and poetic concepts. Tylor tried to find the explanation of this phenomenon in the essential community of paths of development of human cultures18. Tylor's these and other views were substantiated by the researches of Frazer in his voluminous Golden Bough19.
The followers of anthropological school believed that "all men evolve in one evolutionary path through absolutely identical stages of savagery, barbarism and civilization. Savagery was said to be exemplified by Australian aboriginal culture, whereas civilization was symbolized by Victorian England" (Dundes, 1965 : 55). Both Tylor and Lang in explaining the resemblance of religious and poetic phenomena among various nations, referred to the community of human psychology, by which they meant that all cultures evolve in three identical stages: savagery, barbarism and civilization. But they seem to have been guided by some kind of an arbitrariness in defining savagery, barbarism or civilization. Moreover, they did not enter into an examination of the actual process of creation of myths and poetic motifs. This was later done, to some extent by Wilhelm Wundt and Mannhardt in Germany and Joseph Bedier in France20.
THE COMPARATIVE METHOD
As indicated above, Benfey's theoretical framework which, however, was based on "atomistic origin", "diffusion" and "migration" of tales in genetically related and unrelated cultures, inspired rigorous research towards the development of a scientific methodology which could sustain the Benefeyian hypotheses that tales diffuse and migrate, they undergo changes in form and content, but retain most of the basic characteristics by which they can be recognized; and that the roots of their travel and the original form of these tales can be retraced or reconstructed. It was in the Scandinavian countries, particularly Finland, that some enthusiastic folklore scholars developed a rigorous methodology to reconstruct, by a scientific method, the original form of the tale (or other forms of folklore) and the probable route by which the tale might have traveled. In fact this methodology developed out of repeated experimentation on Finnish national epic Kalevala21. Helsinki based scholars such as Joseph Krohn and his son Kaarle Krohn experimented with various versions of the epic story in order to find its original form or forms and the route by which it might have traveled around, spread throughout Finland and the neighbouring areas. The method obviously sought to trace the history and the travel routes (in terms of geography) of a tale or any particular item of folklore. It was, therefore, known as historical-geographical method. Since the method was developed at Helsinki in Finland and used first for Finnish folklore materials, it was popularly known as the Finnish method.
In course of time, famous Scandinavian folklore scholars such as C.W. von Sydow of Sweden, Axel Olrik of Denmark besides Krohn and Elias Lonnrot of Finland22 refined and reshaped the method so much so the method became the most fashionable form of analyzing oral narrative materials; although it began primarily with oral poetry, particularly the epic; and Helsinki became the Mecca of world folklorists. The main objective of the method, as said, was to study the subject of the tales and to determine the starting points of their origin and the geographical routes of their diffusion23. This these scholars did by following a particular methodology based upon some kind of statistical abstraction of the data for searching its archetypes and travel routes. The methodology, in short, is to reduce a particular tale, more or less to a statistical abstraction by breaking it into traits and sub-traits after its all possible variants or versions are collected, assembled and arranged. Then the hypothetical archetype of each trait is established. "After the archetype of each individual trait is hypothesized, the projected list of archetypal traits is put together as a possible basic type or the archetype of the whole tale" (Dundes, 1965 : 415), which may or may not correspond to even one actual recorded version of the tale in the initial corpus.
Besides Scandinavian, many American and European scholars used Finnish methodology in their model studies. For example, Archer Taylor's The Black Ox24, Warren E. Roberts' The Tale of the Kind and Unkind Girls25 and Stith Thompson's, The Star Husband Tale26, are some of the best models available in English. Recently some enterprising folklorists of the University of Pennsylvania have started using electronic computers for the analysis of tales on the lines of Finnish model.
Despite its dominant force in folklore studies, some of the assumptions and procedures of Finnish school have been challenged. Scholars like Wesselski, C.W. von Sydow, Bodker, and Christiansen have severely criticized the rigidity and the mechanical nature of the Finnish methods, which obviously ignore the aesthetic, stylistic elements of the narrator and the text. Moreover, "a postulated Ur-form that can never be substantiated was in itself a fairy tale" (Dorson, 1975 : 9)27. However, in spite of these criticisms, Finnish methods still remain the scientific methods in historical folkloristics. "The germs of current theoretical and methodological refineness in folkloristics can easily be traced to Finnish methods" (Handoo, 1978 : 9).
THE PSYCHOANALYTICAL INTERPRETATIONS
What Max Mu_ller and the scholars who followed him attempted to explain in mythology in terms of heavenly phenomena, the Austrian psychoanalytic school did it by recourse to sexual symbolism. "A direct historical connection can be seen", writes Dorson, "between the German celestial mythologists and Austrian psychoanalytical folklorists, who have borrowed the method of their predecessors and simply changed the symbols" (1975 : 25).
The revolutions which occurred in the explorations of the subconscious mind of man in the field of psychoanalysis by the writings, experiments, and discoveries of Sigmund Freud, besides changing the direction in other areas of human inquiry, influenced heavily the theoretical and methodological prospects of folkloristics. Freud himself leaned heavily on myths, tales, particularly dreams28 in folklore for his psychoanalytical explorations of human mind. In his Interpretation of Dreams he presented the thesis that "dreams express the latent repressed wishes and fears of infantile sexuality in symbolic disguise" (Dorson, 1975 : 26). Since myths, folktales, and other forms of folklore looked like dreams, naturally attempts were made to equate them. Many folklorists following Freudian principles believed that the "dream is the myth of the individual"29. Some even declared that myth is the dream of a culture; and therefore the same psychological mechanisms operated in dreams and myths and were subject to the same interpretations. According to these scholars if the dreams expressed the infantile desire of one human being, myths revealed psychic repressions of the whole race or culture. Certain mechanisms transform the childish and half forgotten sexual urges into some objects and images of the daily life. "Properly understood and logically arranged the symbol figures told a story of sexual hunger, guilt and shame. Beneath the manifest content lurks a latent fantasy of masterbation, castration, body destruction, penis-envy, incest" (Dorson, 1975 : 26). Freud and his followers interpreted a series of ancient myths, tales and literary productions according to this psychoanalytic plan. For example, in the subject of Greek myth of Oedipus as developed by Sophocles, Freud discerns the symbolism of a sexual attraction which may frequently be encountered between the child and the mother and a hatred for the father: the so-called "Oedipus Complex"30.
Besides Freud and Oppenheim, Earnest Jones, Erich Fromm, Gaza Rohéim have done remarkable work in analyzing oral traditions of different cultures in terms of psychoanalytic interpretations. Alan Dundes, in most of his work on American folklore follows the Freudian interpretations. It should however be remembered that Jung's analytical psychology and the concept of "collective unconscious" and "personal unconscious" also have, besides Freudian postulates, influenced the folklorists who analyze or are analyzing folklore materials psychoanalytically.
Anthropologists and folklorists have reacted very sharply to the method in which folklore items have been interpreted psychoanalytically. One of the major criticisms have been that the explanations this school tries to give are more based upon speculative assumptions about modern man. "But whether or not the human ancestor or ancestors who devised the folktale or game had the same psychological make up as modern man is hard to prove" (Duneds, 1965 : 55). However, in spite of the controversial debates the psychoanalytical theory generated in the wide academic circles, it still remains one of the most acceptable non-formal methods of deciphering meaning, if any, of folklore materials and as such not been discarded completely.
THE ORAL-FORMULAIC THEORY
In 1935, Milman Parry of the Harvard University who had made a name for himself in classical scholarship by his masterly analysis of the formulaic characteristics in the Iliad and the Odyssey, turned his attention to the oral character of the poems, so that he could support his views on the formulaic character of the written classical epics. To achieve this end he turned to Yugoslav oral poetry. "The aim of this study was", he wrote, "to fix with exactness the form of oral story poetry, to see wherein it differs from the form of written story poetry. Its method was to observe singers working in a thriving tradition of unlettered song and see how the form of their songs hangs upon their having to learn and practice their art without reading and writing. The principles of oral form thus gotten would be useful in two ways. They would be a starting point for a comparative study of oral poetry which sought to see how the way of life of a people gives rise to a poetry of a given kind and a given degree of excellence. Secondly, they would be useful in the study of the great poems which have come down to us as lonely relics of a dim past: we would know how to work backwards from their form so as to learn how they must have been made"31. The work started by Parry and completed by Albert B. Lord, had far reaching influences on the theoretical and methodological advancement in folklore scholarship, particularly in the collection and study of oral poetry. The works of Parry and Lord proved beyond doubt, that epic singers are at once the tradition and individual characters. These epic singers they proved on the basis of Yugoslav epic singer, memorize a set of formulas which enable them to carry on the traditional themes with reasonable accuracy and at the same time give them freedom to improvise new elements depending on the occasion without altering the form drastically "Parry sought to analyze the oral style of the Homeric epics through a close study of living tradition of European heroic poetry" (Dorson, 1972 : 36). Field trips of Parry from 1933 to 1935 and of Lord in 1937, 1950 and 1951, amassed some 13000 Slavic texts now preserved in the Parry Collection at Harvard. A selection of these collection from the region of Novi Pazar with English translation and musical notations by Béla Bartok was published in 195332.
The work of Parry and Lord on Slavic oral poetry looks to the narrator and his performance for the key to the composition and structure of epic, ballad, romance and folktale. In his The Singer of Tales, Lord, "discusses intensively the concepts of formula and theme and the observable process of oral heroic poetry to demonstrate the generic unity of folk epics from classical to modern times" (Dorson, 1972 : 36). Form his investigations into the performance of Slavic epic singers, Lord discovered that the narrators memorize formulas ["a group of words which is regularly employed under the same metrical conditions to express a given essential idea" (Lord, 1960 : 30)] and use them in the delivery of epics. These formulas are, according to Lord, made up of melodic, metric, syntactic and acoustic patterns and are carried on in oral tradition and begin assimilating into the young singers' mind before he actually begins to sing. These formulas, therefore, are the foundation stones of oral narrative style.
This type of close analysis of Yugoslav heroic poetry began to be known as "Oral - Formulaic Theory". Many students of folklore have responded with enthusiasm to this theory of oral expression. James H. Jones applied it to Child's English and Scottish popular ballads33. Many other scholars and folklorists used the theory to examine the form and content of medieval romances, Rusian byliny and Negro ritualistic sermons34.
It is interesting to note that the oral-formulaic theory was getting established in America (and perhaps in Yugoslavia) at a time when the Russian Formalist movement was making strong headways in the realm of formal studies of art and creative expressions, and also in the area of structural analysis of oral narrative. Propp's Morphology was published in Russian in 192835, and since its translation into English was delayed until 1958, it seems to have failed in making any strong impact on the oral-formulaic theory of the Harvard scholars. Lord just acknowledges Propp's work on folktales in a footnote of the fourth chapter of The Singer of Tales. He states, " the most interesting work on themes, other than indexing, with which I am acquainted has been done not in the field of epic, but in the related fields of folktale and myths "36 Lord seems to ignore the importance of Propp's work simply under the false cover of the problem of genre. I use the term false deliberately to emphasize the fact that had the generic label (or labels) been so dear to Lord, as he seems to pretend, then the title of his remarkable work should have been "The Singer of Epics or Ballads" and not The Singer of Tales. The only justification one can think of for this by passing of an important work by Lord, could be that, like other scholars, Lord also was frightened by the over emphasis Propp's Morphology put on formalist approach. That both, the oral-formulaic theory and the work of Propp, were attempting to discover the same fundamental principles of narrative composition, despite the fact that the former worked with oral poetry and the latter with folktales, needs hardly to be explained. One can attribute this coincidence (if at all it is a coincidence) to what Faucault calls episteme of the era37. in other words the structural thinking was and (still remains) the episteme of the folkloric era. Besides folklorists, this episteme language studies, and ethnological investigations. Once we look into the evolution of this thinking and its practical applicability in the following sections and later in detail in one of the chapters of this work, the underlying similarities will become more clearer.
Another, and perhaps the most important contribution of oral formulaic theory has been to make it very clear, for the first time in folklore scholarship, that besides the text, context forms an essential part of folkloric phenomenon. This new emphasis on context rather than text of folklore items alone was bound to open new vistas in modern folklore scholarship. Performance of the narrative singers in terms of their oral repertoire, narrative delivery, audience and the context began to be investigated seriously alongside the text. This led to a new movement of energetic folklore scholars in the United States who worked under the umbrella-name "Contextual-Theory", and who, besides other related sciences, were very heavily influenced by sociolinguistics. We are discussing this theory in a separate section of this chapter.
THE STRUCTURALISTS: SYNTAGMATIC AND PARADIGMATIC APPROACH
The most influential theory to emerge in the folklore studies in the 1960s was the structural theory and it still dominates the current trends in folklore studies. Although the germs of structural or pattern approach can be traced to the works of Raglan, Olrik, von Sydow, André Jolles etc.38, yet the real beginnings of structural approach appeared when Russian Formalist V.J. Propp's famous and highly influential book Morfologiya skázki [Morphology of the Folktale] was published in 1928. This remarkable work, unfortunately, had to wait thirty long years for recognition. In the first place the work was not translated into English until 1958 and in the second the diachronic attitudes in Russia and elsewhere were also responsible for ignoring this work which was primarily based on synchronic principles39. By the time its translation appeared in 1958 there was a little change in the attitudes of folklorists and scientific thought had begun taking roots in folklore theory and methodology. Therefore, Propp's work made these roots stronger and thus revolutionized the folklore scholarship of the modern times. It also shook the foundations of atomistic attitudes and diachronicism in the study of oral narrative, which probably had already begun crumbling during this thirty year "dark period"40.
Propp, as I said earlier, was a staunch Formalist. As Professor of Russian and Comparative Folklore at the Leningrad University, he introduced and taught the courses which spoke of the Russian Formalist thinking and its philosophy of analysis. Propp, for instance, was well aware of the strong diachronic roots of European folklore studies and the threat it posed to synchronic studies and therefore stressed the need of drawing a clear cut line between the diachronic and synchronic studies. His own analysis was a departure form diachronic and historical study to a synchronic and structural analysis. Guided by such scientific thinking, Propp stressed the need to describe a given folkloric phenomenon before one is tempted to discover the origin of that phenomenon. "One can speak about the origin of any phenomenon", writes Propp, "only after that phenomenon has been described" (1968 : 4,5). This attitude of Propp was in itself a great theoretical advancement: an advancement from atomistic thinking to descriptive approach and a point of departure from the "devolutionary" premise in folklore theory41.
Since the days of the Grimm brothers folklore scholars have been searching answers to the difficult questions folklore has always posed: why folktales of different lands look similar and how to discern the elements which make these similarities? What is the meaning of folktales including these similar elements? Prop, however, did not go into the details of the second question, but he viewed the first question entirely differently. He did not indulge in the fruitless exercises of finding the origin of these similarities not did he follow his predecessors in indexing and classifying these similar elements arbitrarily. Instead he worked out an analytical approach which he calls "morphological"42 and by which he means "a description of the [Russian fairy] tale according to its component parts and the relation of these components to each other and the whole" (Propp, 1968 : 19). By component parts Propp means such elements of fairy tales or märchen which remain same every where and do not change and are therefore constants and not variables or elements which change from one tale to another tale. It is not surprising to notice that the folklore scholarship of pre-Proppian era was closely guided by these variable elements (for example, the characters or objects) in all kinds of folklore studies, be it collection work, indexing, archiving or analytical. Propp, on the contrary found that it was not characters or dramatis personae but their constant actions or functions that formed the basic elements or the component parts of tales. Propp however emphasized that these actions qualify for functions or constant elements only when these have implication for the advancement of the tale plots. Therefore, Propp developed a methodology by which one could study the tales according to the functions of the dramatis personae. Thus function became the basic classificatory and analytical unit. Propp studied Afanasyev's celebrated collection of 100 Russian Fairy Tales [Nordonye russkie skázki] and found 31 functions that can account for the totality of the data of 100 tales or the entire genre of fairy tales. He arranged these 31 morphological elements in the "chronological order of the linear sequences Thus, if a tale consists of elements A---Z, the structure of the tale is delineated in terms of this same sequence" (Dunes, 1968 : xi) and therefore some times called "syntagmatic" or "given" analytic schema43.
Propp's model based on his Morphology has been tested cross culturally and cross generically44, and has provoked serious research in the area of structural analysis of oral narrative. The model has also raised controversies and has, as such, been debated in wide circles. We shall discuss these and other issues of Propp's model in detail in an independent chapter.
Another method of structural analysis of folklore materials, particularly myths, based primarily upon the linguistic theories of de Saussure and the anthropological theories of Durkheim and Mauss, is advanced by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. Unlike Propp, Lévi-Strauss does not see any possibility of analyzing structurally a given item of folklore in isolation, i.e., when the item is separated form its cultural context. This basic difference is due to the fact that Lévi-Strauss' structural analysis does not separate form from the content while Propp's work gives more emphasis to form. In other words, Lévi-Strauss methodology is concerned about the structured meaning in myths, which according to him, is a single reality and observable as such. Propp on the other hand, does clearly distinguish between the form and the content and treats them as two separate entities. This is precisely why Propp does not go beyond the surface structure of a folktale and discerns its morphology in terms of its linear syntagmatic structure. Lévi-Strauss, on the other hand, delves into the deeps structure of myths and rearranges the elements into meaningful paradigms45.
In his most influential paper "Structural Study of Myth"46, Lévi-Strauss developed a model for the analysis of myths which was based upon the theoretical advancements made in field of linguistics, information theory, genetics and many other sciences. The model exhibited what might be called the logical processes of myth-creation47. This modest theoretical and methodological beginning reached its culmination in a series of publications on the subject of mythology48.
Lévi-Strauss believes that like language myth is a code of higher level of communication and therefore in subject to similar, if not identical, analysis the language is subjected to. In this way, according to Lévi-Strauss, the Saussurian concepts of language, such as the arbitrariness of the Linguistic sign, its aspects of signified and the signifying, la langue and la parole, the synchronic and the diachronic aspects of language and the binary systems that operate at all levels in languages, become relevant for the understanding of mythology also. Lévi-Strauss and many other scholars seem to have captured the structural thinking behind these concepts postulated by de Saussure for the description of natural languages, and developed by him and other later into an epistemological science. Later, besides Lévi-Strauss, who used structural models in folklore and anthropology, daring uses of such models were done by Lacon in psychiatry and by Barthes and Griemas in the field of semiology and literary theory49.
Lévi-Strauss began with the myth of Oedipus and then turned to Brazilian and related South American mythology for testing his structural methods. It is difficult to discuss in detail Lévi-Straussian methods here in this brief introduction. However, a brief outline might be desirable at this stage.
Guided by the theoretical constraints discussed above Lévi-Strauss believes that a myth can be decomposed and reduced to its basic components or "mythemes" which, according to him, are its molecules. These mythemes can then be rearranged into meaningful or logical paradigms so that the relations thus established reveal the mythic message. These messages, according to him, are binary in nature and always turn out to be logical formulations to overcome contradictions humans or cultures face. This method thus gives new interpretations to myths. For example, the Oedipus myths, so far interpreted differently by different scholars, is in fact, according to Lévi-Strauss' analysis "trying to resolve the contradiction between the cultural belief that man is aboriginal and the realization in life that he is born of man and women. Every variant of each myth seeks to mediate between each opposing idea whether sky and earth wild and cultivated, male and female, good and bad" (Dorson, 1972 : 36). Unlike Lévi-Strauss does not believe in studying narrative in isolation. He does not believe in separating the mythic text from the socio-cultural and historical circumstances which produces it and which it exists in. Moreover, he also insists that the kind of communication myths perform, cannot be understood well or interpreted accurately unless the total field of communication of a culture is also taken into consideration and related to mythic phenomenon. This is precisely why Lévi-Strauss studies structurally not only myths, but food, dress, kinship systems and many other important aspects of human culture.
Lévi-Straussian structural analysis has been applied to the study of social organization and myths cross-culturally. A good number of volumes have appeared on Lévi-Straussian methodology50. Looking at the literature available now on Lévi-Strauss' structuralism, it is obvious that his methods are debated, accepted and, more often than not, rejected. It is too early to say that Lévi-Strauss' methods have solved, once for all, the problem of mythology.
THE CONTEXTUAL THEORY
As I said earlier, the oral-formulaic theory of Parry and Lord, for the first time in the long history of folklore scholarship, attached great significance to the context of folklore texts. Attention to context, as we are aware, was a biproduct of their main quest: to search for the formulas that singers learn and memorize to continue the tradition of the art of story-telling. Therefore, despite the significance this theory attached to the context of epic singing traditions, oral formulaic theory remains primarily a text-oriented theory. However, one should not lose sight of the emphasis this theory laid on studying context which eventually gained momentum and appeared in the form of a separate and forceful theoretical tool known as the "Contextual Theory". Besides this contribution of the oral-formulaic theory, the rapid growth and diversification of social sciences in Europe and the U.S.A. has also been responsible for the changes that have occurred in theoretical folkloristics.
Text-orientedness, as most of us are aware, has been one of the unpleasant things that caused the theoretical lag in folkloristics. Most of the theoretical orientation in folklore indicates towards the fossil-nature of folklore, in which case text became the most important thing. These traditional theories subsumed that the golden age of folklore occurred in the past and therefore collection and preservation of the survivals and reconstruction of the original forms was the ultimate aim of folklore studies. Most of these theories ignored the dynamic character of folklore. But the changes which are occurring in linguistics, psychology, anthropology and other social sciences began influencing the text-oriented folklore scholarship as well. For example it was argued, and rightly so, that if the dynamics of oral tradition is a fact then the text-oriented folklore theories are too narrow and too shallow to recognize this fact. Moreover, there was also a growing felling among the scholars that even the folklore-text does not have a fixed status and in fact goes on changing according to the needs of the time and situation or the context. In fact the oral-formulaic theory had proved this beyond doubt. These theoretical constraints brought a group of young scholars51 together and their contributions began to be inspired by the "contextual-theory". These scholars, unlike their predecessors, as is evidenced by their contributions, did not only depend on the theoretical knowledge amassed in folkloristics proper. Guided by the holistic realities of the cultures, they seem to have grasped whatever was useful to them from other equally important and related disciplines. "From linguistics", writes Dorson, "they have drawn the concept have drawn the concept of behaviour, from anthropology of functionalism, from sociology of role-playing, from psychology of ego mechanisms, and they seek to apply these perspectives to the folklore traditions" (1972 :45).
Contextualists insist that the concept of folklore apply not to a text but to an event in time in which a tradition is performed or communicated. Therefore the whole performance or communicative act must be recorded. The collector can no longer simply write down or tape-record a text for the text is only part of each unique event. To circumvent this difficulty, literary and ethnographic methods, which complement each other, and emphasis on rigorous fieldwork are considered keys to successful contextual studies. "The shift from the library to the field not only adds new supplementary information, but also changes the perspectives of the text from linear narration to multidimensional performance, which forms the essential background of all folkloric events, that the contextualists refuse to extrapolate the text from its context "in language behaviour, communication expression and performance" (Dorson, 1972 : 45) and be guided by the old static typology of folklore texts.
The founders of the contextual theory have not yet produced by monolithic work which could express their thought systematically. However, some highly theoretical papers have been published52, which speak of the theoretical and methodological dimensions of this growing school of thought. These theoretical articles "reveal dimensions of folklore often obscured from the student who is reading texts alone. For years we have known that the written page is but a pale reproduction of the spoken word, that a tale hardly reflects that, no matter how carefully we record oral texts, much is left unprinted, even more is not understood" (Ben-Amons, 1976 : xi).
Since contextualists' insights go beyond the text into the holistic aspects of a folkloric event - be it a storytelling event or a dance performance - they take into consideration the multidimensional paradigm of the context of such an event. For instance a story-telling event to contextualists means, besides the text, the narrator, the occasion, the style of narration, the audience, the interaction between the narrator and the audience and the entire cultural background which forms the event. For obvious reasons this means recording the text and the whole circumstances (even gestures) in which the text was delivered by the narrator and received by the audience. This entails, ideally speaking, besides the use of tape recorder and other traditional methods of data collection, the sophisticated video equipment for capturing the contextual essence of the event. And many contextualists do use such sophisticated devices.
Whatever the future of the contextual theory, one thing seems certain that this theory is a clear departure from the text-oriented folklore theories and as such has great potential for analyzing the much neglected non-text forms - folk dance, drama, etc. - folklore. These forms were hardly studied rigorously in the past. The theoretical tools developed in folklore studies over the years were designed primarily for the text-oriented materials.
THE INDIAN CONCERN
Our main concern in this brief introduction was to trace the growth of folkloristics and to outline summarily the major theoretical and methodological perspectives in which folklore has been studied53. Theories and methodologies as we are aware, become meaningful only when the needs of research and analysis are well designed. Theory in itself has no meaning. On the other hand, it derives meaning from the data it is applied to. Therefore, one must not allow oneself to get confused in the wilderness of theories. On the contrary one must make efforts to break the rigidness of the theories and use whatever theoretical apparatus is available to him or her according to the dictates or demands of the data. In fact, if the data demands, new theories and methodologies should be devised. Folklore theories and the methods we discussed above "are strongly proclaimed; monistic in concept, and imperialistic in design, seeking to annex more and more folklore genres and culture areas. Yet they are not mutually exclusive, and an eclectic folklorist may find all of them useful at one time or another. He will at least need to be acquainted with them, if wishes to become a knowledgeable student of folklore and folklore" (Dorson, 1972 : 47).
Another important factor which students of folklore, particularly of Indian folklore, need to remember, is the fact that barring two (Max Mu_ller's "Solar Mythology Theory" and Benfey's "Migrational Theory") rest of the theories rose on non-Indian data. Even these two which dealt with Indian data depended on written on "frozen" variety of folklore. Therefore one can imagine the dangers involved in the blind application of such theories and in ignoring the cultural specifics. Indian folklore scholars have to be cautious while applying these theories to Indian data. This, however, does not mean that these theories lack the potential of interpreting Indian data. On the contrary these may very well explain Indian folklore forms as accurately as they do in the case of European or American data. The real point is that Indian folklore scholarship has not yet made any major breakthrough as far as theoretical knowledge available to us at present was devised by Western scholars for Western data, we have no option except to accept it, use it cautiously wherever it can be used. Blind application of these theories is as dangerous as ignoring them altogether. Undoubtedly a few of these theories have been devised for the data other than the ones these arosed from. But in any case forcing a theory or a particular method on a data which refuses to accept it is an academic sin which, however tempting it might lock, should not be committed for it harms the growth of academics itself. In conclusion, the present folkloristic scene of our country demands restrain and caution as far as the applicational side of these theories is concerned. TOP