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
legend points to two different forms of transmission: oral in the case of tales (“what is told”) and sagas (“what is said”), written in the case of legends (Lat.
legenda, “what is to be read”), the latter being related to the lives of saints (Hagiography) recited on their various feast days. This distinction has its problems, however, because tales, too, were usually transmitted in writing, and legends, despite all their literaricity, clearly can have an oral substrate as a refl…