Folktexts: How to fill your head with free folklore

In third grade I stole a book from the school library: The Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend.

I could barely read it, but the images on its cover and what little inside of it that I could understand called to me. As my reading skills progressed, so too did my love of myths and legends and the study of religion – I was a weird kid.

Also, this might be a good time to suggest that stealing books from libraries is a shitty thing to do.

If the Internet were a thing back then, maybe I wouldn't have swiped that book. There's no shortage of excellent resources on folk and myth scholarship out there. In my opinion, Folktexts is one of the best. Compiled by Professor D. L. Ashliman, Folktexts is deeply underwhelming in the looks department, but the way that it's organized is pure genius. Instead of simply presenting the stories as so many other online resources do, Professor Ashliman has gone through the bother of categorizing hundreds, if not thousands of stories by their central themes and related tales.

Let's say that you've read "The Emperor's New Clothes" and want to find out if other cultures have their own version of the story. No problem: just look under 'E.' There, you'll find information on the different names that the story is known by and what culture the story comes from. If that's not enough for you, the page even links to the text of all of the versions of the story that the professor is aware of. It's as much a labor of love as it is a work of scholarship.

Image: Viktor Vasnetsov -, Public Domain, Link