Folk literature is the culmination of folktales passed down through generations and then written down. It includes myths, legends, epics, fables, ballads and folktales. The authors of the traditional literature are usually unknown or unidentifiable.
These tales are largely about animals and people, of cultural myths, jokes, songs, tales, and even quotes and often take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are set. In short they describe a culture, which has been preserved by verbal telling. Folklore is also known as “folk literature,” or “oral traditions.”
The main purpose of folklore was to convey in an easy way a moral lesson, present useful information and everyday life lessons for common people, who were illiterate. The tales tended to sugarcoat hard life lessons giving the audience pointers about how they should behave. It is one of the best mediums to pass on living culture or traditions to future generations.
Currently, many forms of folk literature have been transformed into books and manuscripts, which we see in the forms of novels, histories, dramas, stories, lyrical poems, and sermons. Folk literature is not merely a carrier of cultural values, it is also an expression of self-reflection. It serves as a platform to hold high moral ground without any relevance to present day reality. Instead, writers use it as a commentary or satire on current political and social reality. In the modern academic world, folklore’s and folktales are studied to understand ancient literature and civilizations.
For example, Rudyard Kipling was keenly interested in folklore, he wrote many English works based on folklore such as, Rewards and Fairies and Puck of Pook’s Hill. His experiences in the Indian environment led him to create several works about Indian themes and tradition. His most popular work, The Jungle Book, consists of plenty of stories about traditional folktales.
What is your favorite folktale?
Have you written a story based on folklore?