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Andrew Lang as Man of Letters and Folk-Lorist
By Joseph Jacobs

Andrew Lang was a born man of letters; that is to say, he envisaged life through literature. Whatever he experienced, whatever he read or thought about, recalled to his mind something that he had read and retained in his tenacious memory. If he were writing or speaking of golf, he would be reminded of Sam Weller or Adam o'Gordon. Scraps of the old Scotch ballads would recur to his mind when he was writing about the suffragettes. If he were talking of the old ballads themselves, he would be reminded of the aborigine’s song of triumph in Charles Reade’s "It is Never too Late to Mend,” or Allan Breck’s Gaelic song in Stevenson’s "Kidnapped.” He had, too, the literary man’s wide curiosity about things literary, and more than the ordinary literary man’s power of reproducing the literary effects of others: hence the impression he left of remarkable versatility and omniscience. He could illustrate his criticisms by his anthropology; he could illuminate his folk-lore by his literature.

With it all, he was a poet throughout: he had the sensitive soul, the ready response of the "maker,” and, above all, the deft command of the appropriate word. His mind was steeped in the poetry of the past, and gave out, as it were, a reflected iridescence: hence the lightness of his touch even when speaking of the graver things; and hence the brightness of his humor, which was the envy of his fellow men of letters.

Hence too, and curiously enough, his comparative failure as a creative man of letters. The poet or the novelist, however much he may be imbued with the work of his predecessors, must receive his ultimate inspiration from the facts of life itself. Andrew Lang, in his poetry, in his novels, drew inspiration from his reading. This was obviously the case in his most ambitious poetic effort, "Helen of Troy.” It was true also of his novels, in most of which, as if conscious of his failing, he enlisted the collaboration of some friend with greater powers of imagination, as Mr. Mason in "Parson Kelly,” or Sir Rider Haggard in "The World’s Desire.” It was characteristic of him that his most successful efforts in verse were the imitations of old French metres, which, together with Mr. Austin Dobson, he introduced into Victorian literature. He set, for the time, the fashion of the ballade; and, of all his verses, some of his ballades, and the noble sonnet which prefaced his translation of the "Odyssey,” are alone likely to live. He was himself fully conscious of his limitations, as was shown by the preface to his "Grass of Parnassus.”

Though Andrew Lang thus failed to reach the highest heights in the more imaginative forms of literature, he was supreme in that region where literature and journalism meet. For many years his leaders in the “Daily News” were the brightest and most charming things in English journalism. His touch was unmistakable. He could deal in the lightest way with topics of literature, of sport, or of history, which otherwise rarely reached the ordinary reader of a daily news* paper. Here his wide interests had full play, as well as his remarkable power of illustrating with apt literary parallels. He was not above using parallels that were not literary, at least in form; and he was never happier than when applying the sayings of Sarah Gamp or Silas Wegg to the events of the day.

It is probably his journalistic exploits that most helped to give the impression of his omniscience. In a way, it is true, he was the last of the generalists, of men who could write with something worth saying on almost all topics in which he was interested. But his interests were, after all, strangely restricted. Apart from purely literary ones, certain aspects of sport, — cricket, golf, and angling, — Scotch history, folk-lore, psychical research, the Maid of Orleans, Oxford, and Prince Charlie, almost exhaust the list. Science, or indeed anything quantitative, seemed repugnant to him; while he appears to have avoided all the forms of higher speculation,— philosophy, theology, or sociology. It was the incongruity of his favorite topics, with his apt application of his wide reading to them, that added to the impression of omniscience.

But if outside of literature his interests were somewhat sporadic, in the purely literary field his grasp was comprehensive in the extreme. He was master of three literatures, — Greek, French (chiefly of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), and English in all its wide extent. In all three his taste was pure and unerring; though, as might have been anticipated, his tendency was towards the classical rather than the romantic. His criticisms were written with an eye upon the object, and not to subserve any preconceived theory. Here his aversion to philosophical generalities served him in good stead. He discussed men of letters as a man of letters, and not in their relation to life. If something of depth was lost by this mode of treatment, much was gained by the direct appeal to the motives of literary art.

Andrew Lang's wide knowledge and keen appreciation of literature found an especially appropriate field in the many introductions he wrote for other men's books. A large proportion of the hundred and fifty items with which his name is credited in the British Museum Catalogue are of this nature. His lightness of touch gave a grace to his treatment which made his essays true introductions, which led the reader on easily to the acquaintance of the following pages. For a time, indeed, no book of a friend — and he had many friends — seemed complete without one of Andrew Lang’s “buttonholey” yet well-informed introductions. Of more serious value were his introduction and notes to his two favorite authors, Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. These were indeed labors of love, and did serious service to literature in reminding the world that a great novelist deserved as much and as minute attention as any other of the literary classics. He helped, besides, several contemporary novelists, like Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Rider Haggard, with material for their work.

Perhaps he showed his power of literary appreciation to the fullest extent in the remarkable parodies which he gave in his "Letters to Dead Authors,” in which he showed a marvellous power of reproducing the very accent and tone of his peers in the past. He could imitate authors as wide apart as Byron and FitzGerald, Sir Thomas Browne, or Charles Lamb, Montaigne or Villon. It was more than the mere power of verbal mimicry that Andrew Lang showed in these remarkable exploits. He played the “sedulous ape,” to use Stevenson’s phrase, with such success that he seemed to don for the time the very lineaments of his author’s soul.

It was this power of mimicry (in an almost biological sense) that enabled Andrew Lang to put his stamp upon later Victorian literature in a manner which seems to have passed comparatively unobserved. In the many notices I have read of his literary career, little if any stress has been laid upon the influence his translations have had upon the whole translating activity of later Victorian literature. Yet, by his incomparable translations of Homer, of Theocritus, and of “Aucassin,” he set the example of all recent translations from the classics. He did this in two ways. He translated Greek poetry into prose and into Elizabethan prose. He may have followed French models in “prosing” his verse originals; but the form of prose he adopted was all his own, and was admirably suited to his purpose. It was sufficiently archaic to give the antique tone of his originals, but not archaic enough to repel. He had been, perhaps, anticipated by William Morris in the adoption of Elizabethan as his medium. But Morris’s versions from the Icelandic had a strange and un-English ring. I remember when Morris’s “ Old French Romances ” appeared, to which I happened to contribute an introduction, Andrew Lang wrote a leader in the “Daily News,” in which he mimicked inimitably the overstrained archaisms of Morris. In his own translations, Lang hit upon the happy medium between the over-archaic and banal modernity. He has been followed in all directions since the appearance of his “Odyssey;” and later Victorian literature will one of these days be as distinguished for its happy translations as was Elizabethan literature; and when this is recognized, Andrew Lang will come to his own.

But besides being known to the general public as the most versatile man of letters of his time, Andrew Lang also acquired fame as one of the pioneers of that rather indefinite section of knowledge known as folk-lore. It may well have been his interest in the Realien of Homer that brought him first to investigate the mind of primitive man. Some of the notes to the “Odyssey,” as well as the introduction to his and Bolland’s edition of Aristotle’s “Politics,” show an early interest in this direction; but, as with Dr. Frazer, it was the reading of Tylor’s “Primitive Culture” which made him devote his most serious thinking for the last half of his life to anthropology and folk-lore. He thus came to join the band of founders of the Folk-Lore Society — Lawrence Gomme, Edward Clodd, Alfred Nutt, York Powell, and the rest — who were applying Tylor’s method of “survivals” to those popular customs and superstitions to which Thoms had earlier given the name of “folk-lore.” Lang himself was led to branch forth into the discussion of mythology, and certain branches of anthropology which came closest to the folk-lore field. Indeed, he became first known among serious thinkers by the brilliant manner in which he routed Max Muller from his overridden etymological views of mythology. He made also some of the earliest applications of the new lore about totems to the elucidation of primitive man and primitive ways of thinking. But others are to speak of his contributions on these high topics: I am to confine myself to his researches in the more restricted field of folk-lore, notably the folk-custom and the folk-tale.

Andrew Lang wrote but little on folk-custom. Though his earliest folk-lore book was entitled “Custom and Myth,” only two of the essays (“The Bull-Roarer” and “Moly and Mandragora”) dealt with customs per se. In these cases, and in others sporadically scattered throughout his works, he was mainly interested in parallels between savage and Greek customs, especially those that deal with classical ritual. Yet few as were his contributions in this direction, his influence has been considerable among classical archaeologists; and the hints as thrown out were taken up by many classical scholars like Reinach, Miss Harrison, Dr. Rouse, Dr. Farnell, and others, who have used with happy results the comparative method thus initiated by Lang. Here his intimate knowledge both of Greek custom and savage life opened up the way to a novel method of research.

But it was in the application of Tylor’s method of “survivals” to the investigation of the folk-tale that Andrew Lang performed his most valuable service to folk-lore. The most marked characteristic of the folk-tale, that indeed which forms its differentia from the ordinary anecdote or popular story, is the existence of incidents which can best be described as impossible, that is, to our minds. Men are changed into frogs, apple-pips speak, decapitated heads are replaced, birds speak, a girl’s mother is a sheep, and so on. Such seeming impossibilities occur in all collections of folk-tales; and it was the chief problem, in discussing them, to imagine how they could have arisen. The old etymological school of Kuhn and Max Muller saw in them either mistakes of language, or disguised sun, moon, and star myths. Andrew Lang dispersed the mists that surrounded these explanations. He caused the sun theory to set forever, and in its place brought forward an explanation which was at once acceptable as a vera causa. His explanation was both simple and adequate. These things, which seem to us impossibilities, are regarded among savages as usual and natural. Tylor had pointed out the savage tendency to regard all things as animate, and Lang applied the theory of animism to the folktale. In his admirable introduction to Grimm he analyzed the underlying ideas of such impossibilities as I have mentioned above, and showed that they existed among savages as living ideas, that they were applied to similar incidents in the ordinary tales told among grownups in savage society. He contended, therefore, that the similar incidents in the ordinary fairy-tales of European children had arisen when the mind of the European peasant was in the primitive or savage state; in other words, the fairy-tales now told among children are survivals of the same incidents told among their ancestors when their minds were in a savage or primitive state. Recent inquiries among Greek peasants have shown that they retain many customs, myths, and folk-tales tracing back to classical times; and this affords an empirical verification of Lang’s theory, which conclusively clinches his argument.

I take this occasion to express the hope that Lang’s admirable introductions to Grimm, Perrault, and “Cupid and Psyche,” in which his theory of the irrational elements in folk-tales is expounded so lucidly and convincingly, may be collected together in a volume, and made more easily accessible to the students of the folk-tale. This would be a worthy monument of perhaps his most important contribution to folk-lore.

Lang was not so successful, in my opinion, in solving the other most striking problem connected with the folk-tale. The industry of European scholars since the Brothers Grimm has brought out innumerable parallels between folk-tales of different countries, often very far removed. For instance, we find a whole tale repeated in very much the same form from, say, India to the Shetlands; and it is one of the problems of folk-lore to decide as to the cause of these similarities in folk-tale structure. Lang was inclined, on the whole, to believe that the similarities in plot were due to the similar make-up of men’s minds when in the savage or primitive stage. He was probably led to this conclusion by an erroneous application of his chief method with regard to the origin of the separate incidents of a folk-tale. Where these were of savage character, he found parallels for each of them in different countries; and as it was obvious that they could not be derived from these different countries when connected together, he was necessarily led into the view that they had independently arisen. Personally, I consider that when a tale as a whole is found in its chief incidents repeated in different countries, the similarity is due rather to transmission than to the similarity of men's minds. The folk-tale, in its way, is a work of art, and a work of art must arise in a single man's mind. It is curious that Andrew Lang, with his strong literary tendency, should have overlooked this obvious fact. I had a rather protracted controversy with him on this question of the diffusion of folk-tales, and had the satisfaction of finding that, in the end, he had come around to my view, though, naturally enough, he contended that he had been, from the first, inclined towards it. However, this is not the place to revive the ashes of extinct controversies.

Andrew Lang did yet a further service to the cause of folk-lore by the long series of translations of fairy-tales which he published nearly every Christmas for the past twenty-five years. Under his direction, Mrs. Lang and a company of her lady friends translated, from almost all languages, the most striking and charming fairy-tales. “The Blue Fairy Book" and its followers, running through all the tints of the rainbow, have revived the vogue of the folk-tale among English speaking children, and given a new Cabinet des Fees, rivalling its congener of the eighteenth century. It is no small contribution to give “stuff o’ the imagination" to a whole generation of children; and Lang’s name will be added to those of Perrault, Grimm, and Andersen, as one of the chief delights of the nursery library.

Yonkers, N. Y., 1913.

The Fairy Books of Andrew Lang
Author: Andrew Lang and Others
Illustrated by Frank Godwin



The Tales in this volume are intended for children, who will like, it is hoped, the old stories that have pleased so many generations. The tales of Perrault are printed from the old English version of the eighteenth century. The stories from the Cabinet des Fees and from Madame d'Auhioy are translated, or rather adapted, by Miss Minnie Wright, who has also, by M. Henri Carnoy's kind permission, rendered "The Bronze Ring" from his Traditions Populaires de VAsie Mineure (Maisonneuve, Paris, 1889).

The stories from Grimm are translated by Miss May Sellar; another from the German by Miss Sylvia Hunt; the Norse tales Eire a version by Mrs. Alfred Hunt; "The Terrible Head" is adapted from Apollodorus, Simonides, and Pindar by the Editor; Miss Violet Hunt condensed "Aladdin"; Miss May Kendall did the same for Gulliver's Travels; "The Fairy Paribanou" is abridged from the old English translation of GaUand. Messers. Chambers have kindly allowed us to reprint "The Red Etin" and "The Black Bull of Norroway" from Mr. Robert Chambers' Popular Traditions of Scotland. "Dick Whittington" is from the chap book edited by Mr. Gomme and Mr. Wheatley for the Villon Society; "Jack the Giantkiller" is from a chap book, but a good version of this old favorite is hard to procure.

Andrew Lang.

The Bronze Ring
Prince Hyacinth And The Dear Little Princess
East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon
The Yellow Dwarf
Little Red Riding Hood
The Sleeping Beauty In The Wood
Cinderella, Or The Little Glass Slipper
Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp
The Tale Of A Youth Who Set Out To Learn What Fear Was
Beauty And The Beast
The Master-Maid
Why The Sea Is Salt
The Master Cat; Or, Puss In Boots
Felicia And The Pot Of Pinks
The White Cat
The Water-Lily. The Gold-Spinners
The Terrible Head
The Story Of Pretty Goldilocks
The History Of Whittington
The Wonderful Sheep
Little Thumb
The Forty Thieves
Hansel And Grettel
Snow-White And Rose-Red
The Goose-Girl
Toads And Diamonds
Prince Darling
Blue Beard
Trusty John
The Brave Little Tailor
A Voyage To Lilliput
The Princess On The Glass Hill
The Story Of Prince Ahmed And The Fairy Paribanou
The History Of Jack The Giant-Killer
The Black Bull Of Norroway
The Red Etin


The Twelve Dancing Princesses
The Princess Mayblossom
Soria Moria Castle
The Death Of Koshchei The Deathless
The Black Thief And Knight Of The Glen.
The Master Thief
Brother And Sister
Princess Rosette
The Norka
The Wonderful Birch
Jack And The Beanstalk
The Little Good Mouse
Graciosa And Percinet
The Three Princesses Of Whiteland
The Voice Of Death
The Six Sillies
Kari Woodengown
The Ratcatcher
The True History Of Little Golden Hood
The Golden Branch
The Three Dwarfs
The Enchanted Canary
The Twelve Brothers
The Nettle Spinner
Farmer Weatherbeard
Mother Holle
Bushy Bride
The Golden Goose
The Seven Foals
The Marvellous Musician
The Story Of Sigurd


The Cat And The Mouse In Partnership
The Six Swans
The Dragon Of The North
Story Of The Emperor's New Clothes
The Golden Crab
The Iron Stove
The Dragon And His Grandmother
How Six Men Travelled Through The Wide World
The Glass Mountain
The Dead Wife
In The Land Of Souls
The White Duck
The Witch And Her Servants
The Magic Ring
The Flower Queen's Daughter
The Flying Ship
The Snow-Daughter And The Fire-Son
The Story Of King Frost
The Death Of The Sun-Hero
The Witch
The Hazel-Nut Child
The Story Of Big Klaus And Little Klaus
Prince Ring
The Swineherd
How To Tell A True Princess
The Blue Mountains
The Tinder-Box
The Witch In The Stone Boat
The Nightingale
Hermod And Hadvor
The Steadfast Tin-Soldier
A Story About A Darning-Needle


A Tale Of The Tontlawald
The Finest Liar In The World
The Story Of Three Wonderful Beggars
The Three Princes And Their Beasts (Lithuanian Fairy Tale)
The Goat's Ears Of The Emperor Trojan
The Nine Pea-Hens And The Golden Apples
The Lute Player
The Grateful Prince
The Child Who Came From An Egg
Stan Bolovan
The Two Frogs
The Story Of A Gazelle
How A Fish Swam In The Air And A Hare In The Water.
Two In A Sack
The Envious Neighbour
The Fairy Of The Dawn
The Enchanted Knife
Jesper Who Herded The Hares
The Underground Workers
The History Of Dwarf Long Nose
The Nunda, Eater Of People
The Story Of Hassebu
The Maiden With The Wooden Helmet
The Monkey And The Jelly-Fish
The Headless Dwarfs
The Young Man Who Would Have His Eyes Opened
The Boys With The Golden Stars
The Frog
The Princess Who Was Hidden Underground
The Girl Who Pretended To Be A Boy
The Story Of Halfman
The Prince Who Wanted To See The World
Virgilius The Sorcerer
Mogarzea And His Son


Lovely Ilonka
Lucky Luck
The Hairy Man
To Your Good Health!
The Story of the Seven Simons
The Language of Beasts
The Boy Who Could Keep A Secret
The Prince And The Dragon
Little Wildrose
Tiidu The Piper
The Gifts Of The Magician
The Strong Prince
The Treasure Seeker
The Cottager And His Cat
The Prince Who Would Seek Immortality
The Stone-Cutter
The Gold-Bearded Man
Tritill, Litill, And The Birds
The Three Robes
The Six Hungry Beasts
How The Beggar Boy Turned Into Count Piro
The Rogue And The Herdsman
The Death Of Abu Nowas And Of His Wife
Niels And The Giants
Shepherd Paul
How The Wicked Tanuki Was Punished
The Crab And The Monkey
The Horse Gullfaxi And The Sword Gunnfoder
The Story Of The Sham Prince, Or The Ambitious Tailor
The Colony Of Cats
How To Find Out A True Friend
Clever Maria
The Magic Kettle


The Story of the Hero Makoma
The Magic Mirror
Story of the King Who Would See Paradise
How Isuro the Rabbit Tricked Gudu
Ian, the Soldier's Son
The Fox and the Wolf
How Ian Direach Got the Blue Falcon
The Ugly Duckling
The Two Caskets
The Goldsmith's Fortune
The Enchanted Wreath
The Foolish Weaver
The Clever Cat
The Story of Manus
Pinkel the Thief
The Adventures of a Jackal
The Adventures of the Jackal's Eldest Son
The Adventures of the Younger Son of the Jackal
The Three Treasures of the Giants
The Rover of the Plain
The White Doe
The Girl-Fish
The Owl and the Eagle
The Frog and the Lion Fairy
The Adventures of Covan the Brown-Haired
The Princess Bella-Flor
The Bird of Truth
The Mink and the Wolf
Adventures of an Indian Brave
How the Stalos Were Tricked
Andras Baive
The White Slipper
The Magic Book


What the Rose did to the Cypress
Ball-carrier and the Bad One
How Ball-carrier Finished His Task
The Bunyip
Father Grumbler
The Story of the Yara
The Cunning Hare
How Geirald The Coward Was Punished
The Sacred Milk of Koumongoe
The Wicked Wolverine
The Husband of the Rat's Daughter
Pivi and Kabo
The Elf Maiden
How Some Wild Animals Became Tame Ones
Fortune and the Wood-Cutter
The Enchanted Head
The Sister of the Sun
The Prince and the Three Fates
The Fox and the Lapp
Kisa the Cat
The Lion and the Cat
Which was the Foolishest?
Story of Wali Dad the Simple-Hearted
Tale of a Tortoise and of a Mischievous Monkey

The Shifty Lad
The False Prince and the True
The Jogi's Punishment
The Heart of a Monkey
The Fairy Nurse
A Lost Paradise
How Brave Walter Hunted Wolves
The King of the Waterfalls
A French Puck
The Three Crowns
The Story of a Very Bad Boy
The Brown Bear of Norway
Little Lasse
The Enchanted Deer
A Fish Story
The Wonderful Tune.
The Rich Brother and the Poor Brother
The One-Handed Girl
The Bones of Djulung
The Sea King's Gift
The Raspberry Worm
The Stones of Plouhinec
The Castle of Kerglas
The Battle of the Birds
The Lady of the Fountain.
The Four Gifts
The Groac'h of the Isle of Lok
The Escape of the Mouse
The Believing Husbands
The Hoodie-Crow.
The Brownie of the Lake
The Winning of Olwen


The Cat's Elopement
How the Dragon Was Tricked
The Goblin and the Grocer
The House in the Wood
Uraschimataro and the Turtle
The Slaying of the Tanuki
The Flying Trunk
The Snow-man
The Shirt-collar
The Princess in the Chest
The Three Brothers
The Snow-queen
The Fir-tree
Hans, the Mermaid's Son
Peter Bull
The Bird 'Grip'
I Know What I Have Learned
The Cunning Shoemaker
The King Who Would Have a Beautiful Wife
Catherine and Her Destiny
How the Hermit Helped to Win the King's Daughter
The Water of Life
The Wounded Lion
The Man Without a Heart
The Two Brothers
Master and Pupil
The Golden Lion
The Sprig of Rosemary
The White Dove
The Troll's Daughter
Esben and the Witch
Princess Minon-minette
Maiden Bright-eye
The Merry Wives
King Lindorm
The Jackal, the Dove, and the Panther
The Little Hare
The Sparrow with the Slit Tongue
The Story of Ciccu
Don Giovanni De La Fortuna


Donkey Skin
The Goblin Pony
An Impossible Enchantment
The Story Of Dschemil and Dschemila
Janni and the Draken
The Partnership of the Thief and the Liar.
Fortunatus and His Purse
The Goat-faced Girl
What Came of Picking Flowers
The Story of Bensurdatu
The Magician's Horse
The Little Gray Man
Herr Lazarus and the Draken
The Story of the Queen of the Flowery Isles
Udea and Her Seven Brothers
The White Wolf
Mohammed with the Magic Finger
The Dog and the Sparrow
The Story of the Three Sons of Hali
The Story of the Fair Circassians
The Jackal and the Spring
The Bear
The Sunchild
The Daughter Of Buk Ettemsuch
Laughing Eye and Weeping Eye, or the Limping Fox
The Unlooked-for Prince
The Simpleton
The Street Musicians
The Twin Brothers
The Ogre
A Fairy's Blunder
Long, Broad, and Quickeye


The Blue Bird
The Half-Chick
The Story Of Caliph Stork
The Enchanted Watch
Sylvain And Jocosa
Fairy Gifts
Prince Narcissus And The Princess Potentilla
Prince Featherhead And The Princess Celandine
The Three Little Pigs
Heart Of Ice
The Enchanted Ring
The Snuff-Box
The Golden Blackbird
The Little Soldier
The Magic Swan
The Dirty Shepherdess
The Enchanted Snake
The Biter Bit
King Kojata (From The Russian)
Prince Fickle And Fair Helena (From The German)
Puddocky (From The German)
The Story Of Hok Lee And The Dwarfs
The Story Of The Three Bears
Prince Vivien And The Princess Placida
Little One-Eye, Little Two-Eyes, And Little Three-Eyes
Jorinde And Joringel
Allerleirauh; Or, The Many-Furred Creature
The Twelve Huntsmen
Spindle, Shuttle, And Needle
The Crystal Coffin
The Three Snake-Leaves
The Riddle
Jack My Hedgehog
The Golden Lads
The White Snake
The Story Of A Clever Tailor
The Golden Mermaid
The War Of The Wolf And The Fox
The Story Of The Fisherman And His Wife
The Three Musicians
The Three Dogs


The Blue Parrot
Geirlaug the KingÂ’s Daughter
The Story of Little King Loc
A Long-bow Story
Jackal or Tiger?
The Comb and the Collar
The Thanksgiving of the Wazir
Samba the Coward
Kupti and Imani
The Strange Adventures of Little Maia
Diamond cut Diamond
The Green Knight
The Five Wise Words of the Guru
The Golden-headed Fish
The Satin Surgeon
The Billy Goat and the King
The Story of Zoulvisia
Grasp All, Lose All
The Fate of the Turtle
The Snake Prince
The Prince and Princess in the Forest
The Clever Weaver
The Boy who found Fear at Last
He Wins who Waits
The Steel Cane
The Punishment of the Fairy Gangana
The Silent Princess

The Death of Andrew Lang. — Andrew Lang died on the 20th of July, 1912, at the age of sixty-eight. The wizard of St. Andrews is no more. His was a life of restless activity in more than one field. He was a student but not a scientist, a scholar but not a book-worm. Whether he delved into history, literature, mythology, social origins, his scholarship was always of a high order, and his work never lacked that quality of sparkling lightness, that elan, which was altogether his own. Nothing, perhaps, could bear better witness to his ever youthful pen than the fact that four books bearing his name have appeared since his death, not to speak of a score of articles in various periodicals.

Of Lang’s many achievements his services to the science of man rank among the highest. While still a young man he wrote the article on mythology for the ninth edition of “The Encyclopaedia Britannica.” It was a formidable attack upon the mythological theories of Max Muller, who was then at the height of his fame. Lang developed what was destined to become the anthropological method of dealing with myths, as opposed to Muller’s narrowly philological method. The subsequent development of the science of mythology, to which Lang himself contributed in no small degree, fully vindicated Lang’s position in that first fight of his fighting career. Regarding myths as free products of the imagination, Lang to the end stalwartly resisted all attempts to ascribe historical significance to mythological records. His “Custom and Myth” appeared in 1884, followed in 1887 by his “Myth, Ritual, and Religion, ” — the forerunner of Frazer’s “Golden Bough,” Farnell’s “Cults of the Greek States,” Hartland’s “The Legend of Perseus.”

Later he took up the fight against Tylor’s animism. While having the highest regard for Tylor’s achievement (cf. Lang’s splendid tribute to Tylor in the “Anthropological Essays,” 1907), Lang found that his facts did not fit into the animistic frame set for them by the father of anthropology; and he insisted on a hearing. He drew attention to certain phenomena of twilight psychology, — hallucinations, illusions, crystal-gazing, etc., — the r61e of which in shaping primitive forms of religious belief had, he thought, been vastly underestimated. He gave expression to his ideas in “Cock Lane and Common Sense” (1894), and in part in “The Making of Religion” (1898). The latter work, however, was inspired by another heresy, — the discovery of a primitive belief in a Supreme Being. A heated discussion with Hartland (1898-99) ensued. Lang’s advocacy of the High-God theory was altogether free from prejudice, and he looked askance at Father P. Schmidt’s voluminous appreciation of himself.

Classical scholars are divided in their estimates of Lang’s Homeric studies, — “Homer and the Epic” (1894), “Homer and his Age” (1906), “The World of Homer” (1910); but, whether right or wrong in his conclusions, Lang once more set an example of a broad-minded ethnological analysis of the data.

Lang’s most signal contributions to anthropology fall in the domain of primitive sociology and totemism. In his “Social Origins” (1903) he propounded the jealous-sire theory of the origin of exogamy; while the totemic name theory of the origin of totemism received its definitive form in “The Secret of the Totem” (1905). With unflagging interest, Lang followed the rapidly accumulating facts and theories on primitive society and totemism, ever watchful of the blunders of his encyclopaedic rival, J. G. Frazer. In 1910 Frazer published his “Totemism and Exogamy,” in which the name of Andrew Lang is barely mentioned. Aroused at last, Lang took terrible, albeit soft-gloved, revenge in his article on totemism in the eleventh edition of “The Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

In his posthumous “Last Words on Totemism, Marriage, and Religion” (Folk-Lore, September, 1912) Lang writes, “For the last three years I have written and rewritten, again and again, a work on totemism and exogamy.” All those who love primitive society, all those who care to hear once more the voice of Andrew Lang, will join in hoping for the appearance of this his last attempt to unravel the secret of the totem.

My Own Fairy Book
Namely certain Chronicles of Pantouflia, as notably the Adventures of Prigio, Prince of that country, and of his son, Ricardo, with an Excerpt from the Annals of Scotland, as touching Ker of Fairnilee, his - sojourn with the Queen of Faery; the whole written by Andrew Lang and adorned by Gordon Browne, T. Scott, and E. A. Lemann.

Celtic Folk and Fairy Tales
Selected and Edited by Joseph Jacobs (pdf)

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