Religion Past and Present

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Tales and Legends
(3,589 words)

[German Version]

I. Literary History

1. Unlike fairy tales, which are set in a fictional world that takes wonders for granted, tales (Ger. Sagen) and legends recount the irruption of miracles and wonders into the real world. Tales treat this irruption as a mysterious and terrifying experience, while legends embed it in a religiously structured explanatory context.

2. The etymology of the terms tale and legend points to two different forms of transmission: oral in the case of tales (“what…

Cite this page
Feistner, Edith, Wißmann, Hans, Arneth, Martin, Sellin, Gerhard and Roggenkamp, Antje, “Tales and Legends”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 16 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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