Ban Josip Jelačić in Croatian Oral Legends: Between History and Myth Cover Image

Ban Josip Jelačić in Croatian Oral Legends: Between History and Myth
Ban Josip Jelačić in Croatian Oral Legends: Between History and Myth

Author(s): Ljiljana Marks
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku
Keywords: history; oral legends

Summary/Abstract: The place of historical personages in oral tradition is analysed on the basis of oral legends. One starts out from the assumption that there exist in their presentation clichéd notions about the valour of heroes, the magnanimity or evil of rulers, and of their generosity and wisdom. Such narrative models are transmitted and adapted to the most diverse historical characters and historical eras, whether the actual biographies of such historical personages are consistent, or not, with the clichés. The question arises as to the extent to which these texts are history, or fiction. In linguistic style, they are much closer to the living vernacular than historical texts are and it is just in that richness that similar but still quite diverse individual expressions reveal a greater density of both experiences and data. Although they are history in part, these legends primarily represent experience of a historical fact organised in a literary manner, with identifiable components of oral literature. Complex historical structures are described from the personal worldview of the narrator or the immediate local community. They reduce the macro-historical level to the local, or even the individual one. In this way, they approach contemporary historiography, which does not interpret historical events and persons solely by bare facts, but rather includes the context of events in its scholarly discourse, along with the testimonies of participants, various stories that do not have to be identical, while each one individually reveals or interprets a small portion of truth. The selected examples show how historical works and the biographies of historical persons, for example, Ban [Governor] Josip Jelačić can become the foundation for the creation of national myths.

  • Issue Year: 41/2004
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 7-22
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: English