Retold Tales

Charlotte Linde

in Working the Past

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780195140286
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199871247 | DOI:
Retold Tales

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This chapter defines a key class of narratives: the retold tale. These are narratives told by a speaker who was not a participant in the events narrated, but heard them from someone else. These narratives have an extended life, because they can acquire new tellers, even beyond the lifetime of the original participants. Retold tales are important because they represent a mechanism for the continuity of narrative transmission. The chapter considers the relation of the retold tale to the grammatical person of the narrative, and then describes the process by which speakers come to tell non-participant stories. The chapter then discusses the topics of retold tales: origin stories and founders stories, turning point and averted disaster stories, and stories of past triumphs. This chapter also analyzes retold tales as part of the process of the formation of an oral canon, and compares it to the processes of written canon formation.

Keywords: retold tales; retelling; origin stories; origin myths; founders; stories; oral canon; canon formation

Chapter.  9622 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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