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Taiwan Folk Literature - Department of East Asian Languages and ...

Taiwan Folk Literature - Department of East Asian Languages and ...

Taiwan Folk Literature - Department of East Asian Languages and

Taiwan Folk Literature Kuo-ch’ing Tu Folk literature is a literature that presents and reflects folk customs, comprising such forms as myth, folktales, legends, historical tales, songs, ballads, proverbs, and jokes. Folklore comes from the people: it is passed on from person to person and spread down from age to age in people’s customs and habits, their beliefs and traditions; it is a cultural phenomenon of a nation passed down through generations to the present, possessing a rich national character and an enduring historical nature. Thus folk literature is the cultural legacy accumulated by generations of propagation, displaying the original style and features in the lives of its people, as well as their sense of history and emotional identification with the land and natural surroundings. Taiwan folk literature can well portray the unique character of Taiwanese customs, geography and history, and at the same time is able to display its universal character in common with other folk literatures of the world. Accordingly, for this issue we have selected some works of Taiwan folk literature that are of a representative nature. The English “folklore” was established in 1846 by the British scholar of antiquities W. J. Thomas, who proposed it as a substitute for “popular antiquities.” Since then it has been borrowed into French, German, Italian, and Russian and translated into Japanese as minzoku (folk customs) or minkan denshô (transmission by the people), which has been adopted in Chinese as minsu. Minsu, used as an academic term, emerged and became prevalent in China in the twentieth century, xiii

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