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The Brown Fairy Book
by Andrew Lang, Contrib. By Mrs. Lang And Annette S. Beveridge
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Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a prolific Scots man of letters, a poet, novelist, literary critic and contributor to anthropology. He now is best known as the collector of folk and fairy tales. As a journalist, poet, critic and historian, he soon made a reputation as one of the ablest and most versatile writers of the day. Lang was one of the founders of the study of "Psychical Research," and his other writings on anthropology include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901) and The Secret of the Totem (1905). He was a Homeric scholar of conservative views. Other works include Homer and the Epic (1893); a prose translation of The Homeric Hymns (1899), with literary and mythological essays in which he draws parallels between Greek myths and other mythologies; and Homer and his Age (1906). He also wrote Ballades in Blue China (1880) and Rhymes à la Mode (1884). Andrew Lang's Fairy Books are a twelve-book series of fairy tale collections. Although Andrew Lang did not collect the stories himself from the oral tradition, the extent of his sources (who had collected them originally), made them an immensely influential collection, especially as he used foreign-language sources, giving many of these tales their first appearance in English.
The stories in this Fairy Book come from all quarters of the world. For example, the adventures of 'Ball-Carrier and the Bad One' are told by Red Indian grandmothers to Red Indian children who never go to school, nor see pen and ink. 'The Bunyip' is known to even more uneducated little ones, running about with no clothes at all in the bush, in Australia. You may see photographs of these merry little black fellows before their troubles begin, in 'Northern Races of Central Australia,' by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. They have no lessons except in tracking and catching birds, beasts, fishes, lizards, and snakes, all of which they eat. But when they grow up to be big boys and girls, they are cruelly cut about with stone knives and frightened with sham bogies all for their good' their parents say and I think they would rather go to school, if they had their choice, and take their chance of being birched and bullied. However, many boys might think it better fun to begin to learn hunting as soon as they can walk. Other stories, like 'The Sacred Milk of Koumongoe,' come from the Kaffirs in Africa, whose dear papas are not so poor as those in Australia, but have plenty of cattle and milk, and good mealies to eat, and live in houses like very big bee-hives, and wear clothes of a sort, though not very like our own.
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