Hungarian Folktales

Hungarian Folktales; The Art of Zsuzsanna Palko by Degh, Linda. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995. ISBN 0-87805-912-1, paper, 408 pp. $20.

Folklorists, tellers, and lovers of great stories will not want to miss this collection. As incredible as the stories are, so much more so is that we even have them to read today. English speaking students of folklore will have been familiar with Palko's name because of the work of Linda Degh, profess9f of folklore at Indiana University. However, prior to this collection, few of Palko's tales had been translated into English. These 35 tales represent a selection from the repertoire of this Hungarian peasant woman, Whose stories preserve a unique, archaic, Hungarian cultural tradition.

The stories were recorded by Degh and have been transcribed for this collection, making the reading of them an experience of the story, but also of the storyteller. One can clearly hear Palko's voice in these, and occasionally the questions of her listeners.
You'll find all kinds of stories here: comical, supernatural, love, adventure; stories ,vith dragons, ordinary people, and castles on rooster legs. There are tender emotions and grisly punishments. Some stories are so long they took hours to tell, and in one, the entire tale is retold by one of the characters at the end of the story!

Degh gives notes on each story describing the cultural context, the storytelling situation at which the story was recorded, and variants of the tale. A glossary is appended, as is a list of sayings and formulaic speech, and an index of tale types and motifs. The book is pure story-telling, given With love, transcribed and translated in the same way. I wouldn't have missed reading it for the world, nor should the world miss reading it, either.

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 2, June 1998
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