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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Wenig - How the Devil Contended with Man - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


Most of the U.S. (and a lot of the rest of the globe) has had weather fitting the meme above.  As a storyteller it made me think of the many tales about the devil.  Today's story comes from Adolf Wenig's Beyond the Giant Mountains; Tales from Bohemia. It was translated by Lillian P. Mokrejs and illustrated by Josef Wenig.  The link for Adolf Wenig goes back to the earlier story from his book posted here on July 28, 2018

That wasn't the only book about the devil which provides Bohemian (Czech) folklore.  It is worth repeating this statement from when I offered Parker Fillmore's tale of "The Devil's Little Brother-in-Law."

On November 2, 2019 I said:
One quick warning, the old Czechoslovakian belief has all devils appear black.  Politically correct?  No.  As someone telling the story today I might say blackened.  I notice, however, the Devil himself, as opposed to his lesser apprentice devils, is able to appear normal and then reveal his true blackened appearance.  The blackened coloring of the young man who goes to work for the Devil is easily explained within the story from his long seven years working in Hell.  It's similar to the appearance and fate of the main character in the Brothers Grimm's "Bear Skinner" and the Russian tale of "Never-Wash" I posted this summer.

Is it any wonder folklore has so many tales about the devil, especially ones where he is the one tricked!  

On a more serious note, I don't usually bring religion into my general work, although I love bringing storytelling for religious groups.  I've told stories for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim audiences and all believe in Satan and the need to cope with satanic influence.  I found the following article worthwhile about "10 Ways Satan Wants You to Respond to the Coronavirus."  You may find it useful whether you are a believer or not.  Several of the suggestions come from Proverbs, a book of fairly universally respected wisdom.  If you recognize fear, anger, distrust of doctors and specialists, lack of faith, immoral coping mechanisms, hoarding & selfishness, becoming a hypochondriac, walking foolishly & putting yourself in harm's way, less prayer, or less fellowship, take a look.  While we might not be as clever as this peasant, we don't need to let the devil win in the current Pandemic.
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.
  • 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 -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - 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 .  It's not easy, but go to 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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
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 -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., 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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