Folklore and Book Culture

Folklore and Book Culture

by Kevin J. Hayes


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Friday, June 18


To many observers, folklore and book culture may appear to be opposites. Folklore, after all, involves orally circulated stories and traditions while book culture is concerned with the transmission of written texts. However, as Kevin J. Hayes points out, there are many instances where the two intersect, and exploring those intersections is the purpose of this fascinating and provocative study.

Hayes shows that the acquisition of knowledge and the ownership of books have not displaced folklore but instead have given rise to new beliefs and superstitions. Some books have generated new proverbs; others have fostered their own legends. Occasionally the book has served as an important motif in folklore, and in one folk genre—the flyleaf rhyme—the book itself has become the place where folklore occurs, thus indicating a lively interaction between folk, print, and manuscript culture.

The author begins by examining the tradition of the Volksbucher—cheaply printed books, often concerned with the occult, whose powers are said to transcend the written text. Hayes looks in depth at one particular Volksbuch—The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses—and proceeds, in subsequent chapters, to discuss a variety of folktales and legends, placing them within the context of book culture and the history of education. He closes with an examination of flyleaf rhymes, the little verses that book owners have inscribed in their books, and considers what they reveal about the identity of the inscribers as well as about attitudes toward book lending, book borrowing, and the circulation of knowledge.

Solidly researched and venturing into areas long neglected by scholars. Folklore and Book Culture is a work that will engage not only folklorists but historians and literary scholars as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498290210
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 03/14/2016
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

Kevin J. Hayes, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, now lives and writes in Ohio. He is the author of several books about American literature, history, and culture, including A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf; The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; and The Library of William Byrd of Westover, for which he received the Virginia Library History Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Center for the Book. He is also the recipient of research fellowships from the Boston Athenaeum, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Lilly Library, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the Virginia Historical Society.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The book’s scholarship is impressive, and the details are delicious. . . . All-but-anonymous ordinary book owners of bygone days speak to us with quotidian concerns and sometimes touching wryness. . . . Folklore and Book Culture ranges adeptly over other absorbing materials from individual items of folklore to obscure and telling facts about early-modern book marketing or such well-known figures as Thomas Jefferson.”

—Dianne Dugaw, University of Oregon

Customer Reviews