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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/90

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Report on Folk-tale Research.

the strength of the attack made by Mr. Newell, M. Cosquin, and Mr. Jacobs on the anthropological position. Their papers and that of Mr. Nutt have brought into fresh prominence the extreme complexity, as well as the importance,, of the issues. The editors indeed claim, and not without justice, that "in the burning question of folk-tale diffusion issue has rarely been joined by the opposing schools with greater definiteness". On this question there is a strong temptation to agnosticism. And indeed, to judge by some of the discussions at the Congress, as well as by the expressions of scientific opinion outside, the problem of the place of origin of any folk-tale is by many students regarded as insoluble. It may be so, of course; but until some serious attempt has been made to trace a number of these stories back to their cradles, an avowal of disbelief in the possibility of the feat is premature. The resources of modern inquiry have not yet been exhausted; nay, they have hardly been tapped. M. Cosquin's learning, reinforced by Mr. Jacobs' acuteness, has done little more than scratch the surface.

The truth is that before we can make much progress in the work we must have improved instruments. With two of these Mr. Jacobs in his paper proposes to furnish us—a folk-tale map and a list of incidents. To speak to the eye is always an aid to the understanding. This is Mr. Jacobs' aim in the outline map of Europe which accompanies his paper. Upon his map he has marked the names of a number of collections, with the dates of their publication, over the localities where the collections were made. To be effective, however, a map of this kind must be on a larger scale than the one before us, and the political divisions—rather, if possible, the linguistic divisions—should be marked. Having analysed the principal types of a folk-tale, we could indicate on such a map its distribution. A map containing the names of collections will hardly be useful save as a key-map for reference. But the idea of a map is a good one, and should not be lost sight of.