Folk Tales Every Child Should Know eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 135 pages of information about Folk Tales Every Child Should Know.

XVII.  The greedy youngster
          From the Norwegian tale of
          Peter Christen Asbjoernsen.

XVIII.  Hans, who made the princess laugh
          From the Norwegian tale of
          Peter Christen Asbjoernsen.

XIX.  The story of Tom tit tot
          An old Suffolk Tale, given in the
          dialect of East Anglia.  From
          “Tom Tit Tot.  An Essay on
          Savage Philosophy in Folk
          Tale,” by Edward Clodd.

XX.  The peasant story of Napoleon
          From “The Country Doctor,”
          by Honore de Balzac.  Translated
          by Katharine Prescott
          Wormeley.

INTRODUCTION

When the traveller looks at Rome for the first time he does not realize that there have been several cities on the same piece of ground, and that the churches and palaces and other great buildings he sees to-day rest on an earlier and invisible city buried in dust beneath the foundations of the Rome of the Twentieth Century.  In like manner, and because all visible things on the surface of the earth have grown out of older things which have ceased to be, the world of habits, the ideas, customs, fancies, and arts, in which we live is a survival of a younger world which long ago disappeared.  When we speak of Friday as an unlucky day, or touch wood after saying that we have had good luck for a long time, or take the trouble to look at the new moon over the right shoulder, or avoid crossing the street while a funeral is passing, we are recalling old superstitions or beliefs, a vanished world in which our remote forefathers lived.

We do not realize how much of this vanished world still survives in our language, our talk, our books, our sculpture and pictures.  The plays of Shakespeare are full of reference to the fancies and beliefs of the English people in his time or in the times not long before him.  If we could understand all these references as we read, we should find ourselves in a world as different from the England of to-day as England is from Austria, and among a people whose ideas and language we should find it hard to understand.

In those early days there were no magazines or newspapers, and for the people as contrasted with the scholars there were no books.  The most learned men were ignorant of things which intelligent children know to-day; only a very few men and women could read or write; and all kinds of beliefs about animals, birds, witches, fairies, giants, and the magical qualities of herbs and stones flourished like weeds in a neglected garden.  There came into existence an immense mass of misinformation about all manner of things; some of it very stupid, much of it very poetic and interesting. 

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Folk Tales Every Child Should Know from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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