The reality of stories

In my native language, one standard formulation to start a folk tale is “There was, once upon a time, because if it weren’t we wouldn’t tell about it”. There are different versions of this formulation, some of them going on and on about a miraculous past and place where the events took place.

“If it weren’t we wouldn’t tell about it” is about the substance and reality of stories. Obviously, folk tales are not descriptions of historical events (although they may echo such events). But this doesn’t mean that they are not rooted in the real. They are “real” insofar as they condense and distill the lived experience of past generations.

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