Dissection

I’m reading Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (or I’m trying to, anyway). It’s dry. Very dusty indeed. What I like is stories, narration, tales – Propp’s work is concerned with taking them apart into their elements and abstractly labelling them. I kind of feel like a person who says they love animals, and then they’re taking into a biology class in order to dissect the critters.

Well, okay, Propp’s work doesn’t involve killing the tales first. But the elements he presents bear precious little resemblance to the living, breathing tales that fascinate me so. Specimens floating in formaldehyde… complete with labelling in Greek alphabet letters. For example, function #6, “The villain attempts to deceive his victim in order to take possession of him or of his belongings,” has designation η (which happens to be “eta”; here I’d thought it was “nu”).

Ah well. I suppose an animal lover who wants to work with the critters does benefit greatly from knowing animal anatomy. I’ve recently wished I knew more about cat health, as both my felines have a propensity to injure themselves; some knowledge of cat anatomy would come in handy. A certain amount of dissection work and labelling of formaldehyde-soaked specimens is probably a good thing, even when it comes to folktales. Back to Propp I go…

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