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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wenig - How a Young Man Served in Hell - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I may miss the weather of Saint Louis in winter (although it's far grayer and icier than here in Michigan), but confess I've adjusted to what passes for normal Michigan summers.  We normally get about a dozen days of 90s over the summer, but this year we managed that in the first month.  By the time this appears I'll be in Kansas City, Missouri at the
I sure hope they get a cold spell for the time I'm there, but I'm not counting on it .  This summer has been enough to make me post today's story.

Adolf Wenig wrote Beyond the Giant Mountains; Tales from Bohemia and the illustrations are by his brother, Josef Wenig, with the translation by Lillian P. Mokrejs.  It's an interesting book with all the stories related to the devil -- who doesn't always get the best of the situation in the stories.  It remind me of two most enjoyable books by Natalie Babbitt,
 Both books are highly enjoyable and also has the devil sometimes getting the worst of bargains.
Natalie Babbitt is best known for Tuck Everlasting, but these two are definitely worth more attention than they received.

Even at that, they probably are better known than Beyond the Giant Mountains.  Let's change that with today's story.
Of course you recognized a few familiar themes there as they are part of the world's folklore that travels.  By the way if you wonder where is Bohemia, it's the present day Czech Republic.  


Image result for adolf wenigAs little as most people outside Europe may know about Bohemia, even less is known about Adolf Wenig.  Only the most basic of facts are listed about him in English. 

Here's a Google translated page of his Czech Wikipedia article where you can see he wrote far more than just this book.  Among his books are listed thirteen as fairy tales and legends and he also wrote the libretti for three operas and translated another.  His brother, Josef, was well known for his art in the theater.  This is Josef's Google translated page from the Czech Wikipedia.  Josef also illustrated several books, including several by his brother.  The fact that Josef died in 1939 and Adolf in 1940 is never explained, but those were the years of World War II. The place of burial for Josef is Strašnice Crematory, which Wikipedia says "During both the Nazi and communist era the crematorium was involved in the disposal of bodies resulting from executions and judicial killings. 2,200 decapitated people were said to have been cremated by the 'night shift' during the Second World War."  The Crematory is in Prague.  Adolf is listed on the family tombstone in Prague.  Clearly the world lost a pair of talented artists.
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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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