The World of Storytelling
H.W. Wilson Co., 1990
I will recommend a book *on* storytelling, which was not written pre-1600, although contains some good research on the place of storytelling and the storyteller throughout history.
Pellowski covers a wide range of material devoted to the art of storytelling including Relgious and Folk storytelling, Training methods, a history of storytelling festivals, and huge bibliography of print and non-print materials (including a seperate bibliography just on recent material published on storytelling). It's a very readable book -- and very browsable as well.
Pellowski is also the author of a book on storytelling for children --
as well as several other books on storytelling -- which I have not read.
Buy The World of Storytelling
This is a collection of folk tales all of which have appeared in one form or another in different cultures. While the stories are not particularly dated, in the introduction to each one the author makes mention of various sources, places and cultures from which the stories are drawn. Even if a story seems modern or too exotic for SCA storytelling, you can often uses the introductory notes to track down a period version.
You will find many familiar stories here, but often with nuances or details that are unfamiliar. I'm fond of the story of Tom Tit Tot, which is Rumplestiltskin in Cornwall.
Sometime one of the collection's stories will remind me of one I've heard before at Storytellers (after all, there are only 7 stories in the world).
For example: the story "The New Hand" comes from the American South, late 19th-early 20th century (I'm guessing on the dates from the style). A hired hand cuts an old man in two, then throws him in the river and he emerges a younger man. The old man asks for the same to be done to his wife, but the new hand is away that day, so the farmer's son tries it and kills the wife instead. As he is about to be hanged for the murder, the new hand appears with the wife, very much alive and much younger.
So... sound like Yevsha's story about the devil as the blacksmith's apprentice? It even has roots going back to Medea, although that story doesn't exactly have a happy ending.
Unfortunately, the beautiful hardcover edition I have is out of print. Amazon does carry a paperback, which will give you the stories (I suppose that's the important part), but not the illustrations, which, done by many different artists (including Brian Froud) are lovely. [MW]
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Contents © 1999-2006 Alex Newman for the Carolingian Storytellers Guild