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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/457

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Mr. Newell and Mr. Jacobs.

method is patent; concerned solely with the literary record of the story, it neglects the really interesting and important point, the sociological and ethnologic significance.

Mr. Jacobs made an undoubted hit with the epithet "casual" applied to the anthropological school. Prof. Rhys, as maybe remembered, was converted on the spot, and Mr. Lang has, seemingly, felt his withers wrung, though, if an outsider may guess, because he denied rather than because he admitted the justice of the taunt. A fair retort is to style Mr. Jacobs' the "spontaneous generation" school. Practically, it postulates creation ex nihilo by the exercise of individual fancy. It thus ignores the fact that every story has a past far older than the first recorded example, that the first combination into a story is merely the grouping together of incidents and conceptions familiar both to tellers and hearers; and, by insistence solely upon the combination and the tracking of its possible wanderings, it obscures for us the earlier history and real meaning of those incidents and conceptions.

Finally, I would note Mr. Jacobs' assertion concerning Cinderella: "The Borrowing Theory . . . comes out triumphant as the sole working hypothesis that will explain the same story existing in so many lands. That in this particular case the borrowing is not from India does not affect the general question." Does it not? I should have thought it did.[1] But I accept Mr. Jacobs' assertion, for it reduces

  1. For Mr. Jacobs, that is. For he, to his great credit be it said, was the first of the Indianists to perceive that the ordinary explanations of the school lacked a scientific basis. A fact was stated, the priority of certain Indian collections, but no theory of causation was suggested, yet if India had a complete or practical monopoly of tale invention there must be a cause. Mr. Jacobs sought this "in the vitality of animism or metempsychosis in India throughout all historic time" (Indian Fairy Tales, p. 234). Yet here we have an "animistic" fairy tale apparently wholly unconnected with India. Does not this cut the ground from under Mr. Jacobs' feet? So that it is hardly necessary to enquire whether India has the monopoly of an unbroken belief in "animism or metempsychosis".