The legend is a popular, anonymous, often fantastic, as well as an oral tradition. A legend plays at a concrete, very frequent historical place, as well as at a certain time, whereby the focus is often on a person who must assert himself in a single event on his own strength. As a rule, the legend explains a regional peculiarity, a name or folk beliefs, usually pretending to be true. The Christian counterpart of legend is the legend that tells of saints or religious events. Texts similar to the saga are the myth, the fable and the fairy tale.
Concept and genus
The literary genre as well as the term were decisively influenced by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who prompted an investigation of the historical development of German-language literature. In Grimm’s Dictionary of 1893, the saga is described as a tale of events of the past, which is without historical attestation and is marked by a naive account of history and tradition, which was transformed by the poetical power of the people’s mind during its migration ,
But even if the legend, if one follows the definition of the brothers, has a naive character and is handed down only by the Volksmund, it always pretends to the reader (or listener) to depict a truth. This claim, even if in the text fabulous beings of all kinds, such as giants, magicians, elves as well as living plants can occur, is pretended by the concrete location and time indications.
Overview: Characteristics of the Sage
Legends are popular folk tales, which as a rule are passed down verbally and are only later fixed in writing, that is, written down. Because they are transmitted first orally, there is often no clear author, which is why such narratives are usually anonymous.
There are rumors of inexplicable natural events that brought fear or blessings, narrate heroes and regional mythical creatures, or explain the origin of (local) names. In other words, myths tend to try to grasp a peculiarity (in nature, past, etc.) or something unexplainable, as well as to justify popular beliefs.
In contrast to fairy tales, the basic framework conditions in a legend are concrete. Accordingly, a definite place, a definite time, and sometimes a hero, that is, a person who experiences the whole, is named (see protagonist), whereby the legend has a credible effect.
As a result, the legend is generally based on true events and is thus a real occasion. However, this is embellished and transformed in free fantasy, with magical, inexplicable and mythological elements playing a role.
However, even if these framework conditions are quite concrete, the legend can be altered by their oral distribution. Legends may wander, so that similar narratives are circulating in different peoples or regions, but always adapt to the specific characteristics of the surrounding environment (cf Wandersagen).
The staff of the legends is traversed by fabulous creatures of all kinds. The focus is often on people who are experiencing something, but they meet with monsters, giants, fairies, talking plants or animals, wizards, witches, mermaids, werewolves, dragons, mermaids, dwarfs and similar legends and supernatural forces of all kinds.
Sayings are also often seen at the beginning. Since they raise a claim to truth, and thus specify concrete time, place and action, they frequently begin with a reference to the same framework: a few years ago, in this area, Schorfheide lived years ago … the inhabitants of Berlin still speak today from …
Note for pupils: Sayings can usually also be recognized by their time format. They are, as a rule, narrated, that is to say, passed verbally, but nevertheless they are determined by the preterite, that is, the first past.
Known German-speaking legends (selection)
Pied Piper of Hamelin: In the 13th century, a man who had promised to free the city from the rat plague was supposed to have lived in Hameln. The citizens promised him a salary, whereupon he whistled a melody and lured the rats out of the city – but the citizens refused to pay him. Later he came back and avenged himself by luring the children from the city with a melody, which should never be seen again.
Flying Dutchman: Told by a captain, who is eternally condemned to wander around the world with a ghost ship in the world until the fall of the world. His ship has incredible abilities, so it can fly backwards and fly through the air.
Rübezahl: Plays in the Riesengebirge and the surrounding area. Rübezahl is a giant or mountain spirit, which appears to people in various forms. Against good people he usually behaves kindly, whither