2007/1 Summaries


Naar een tweetalig volkskundig tijdschrift? Emile van Heurck (1871-1931) en de heroprichting van Volkskunde na de eerste wereldoorlog

Summary: On to a popular bilingual magazine? Emile Van Heurck (1871-1931) and the re-establishment of Volkskunde after WO I.
In 1919, Eugène de Bock of the publishing house De Sikkel tried to start again with the magazine Volkskunde (of which the issue was discontinued at the beginning of the war). The influential French speaking popular analyst however required that the illustrated magazine would be as of now entirely bilingual. This demand caused the negotiations with the Flemish disposed E. de Bock to fail. In 1920 the magazine appeared again. It was edited by a private person, Victor de Meyere, an urban civil servant at the Museum for Folklore in Antwerp. The new editorial staff comprised, among others, Emile van Heurck who, against his will, had to accept that the magazine remained nevertheless monolingual Dutch. In the meantime, the opportunity to let De Sikkel absorb Volkskunde into its trust was missed. De Sikkel, a young, dynamically and professionally led publishing house would have undoubtedly given the magazine more standing and even an international fame.
E. de Bock would have certainly involved youngsters, like a Maurits de Meyer, into the editing. Thus, during the interbellum, Volkskunde would not have degraded into a suffering one-man-cause in the hands of a well-meaning but as an editor-publisher not entirely capable V. De Meyere.



Beelden van de natie: volkscultuur en folklore op Nederlandse en Belgische postzegels in comparatief perspectief

Summary: portraits of the nation. Folklore on Dutch and Belgian stamps: a comparative approach
Portraits on stamps are icons which are used to symbolize national identity. This article focuses on folklore on Dutch and Belgian stamps. Starting point is a hypothesis of Herman Roodenburg. According to Roodenburg old and ‘strong’ nations, like the Netherlands, identify themselves with ‘higher culture’, whereas young and ‘weak’ nations as Belgium more often fall back on icons derived from folklore.
Our scrutiny of Dutch and Belgian stamps reveals that until World War II both nations used icons derived from ‘higher’ culture to symbolize cultural identity. These could be great ‘national’ scholars like Simon Stevin or F.C. Donders but also examples of the great monumental heritage of both countries, for instance famous buildings or churches. A very important icon in both countries are the famous Dutch and Flemish painters of the golden age, especially Rubens in Belgium and Rembrandt in Holland. This is not at all in line with Roodenburgs argument.
Folklore arrived very late, not only in the Netherlands but also in Belgium. It is only in the late fifties that the Belgium Post issued three series of folklore stamps. These folkloristic stamps focused on Belgian legends and folklore. This reference to legend and oral culture is in line with Roodenburgs argument, as weak nations tend to refer to language and oral culture to define themselves as a nation. Also in the fifties folklore made its debut on Dutch stamps. But in contrast to Belgium, the accent was on material culture. It were traditional regional costumes that were portrayed.
More than Belgium, the Netherlands have a tradition of using traditional regional costumes to symbolize Dutch cultural identity. This tradition dates back to at least the late nineteenth century, when in honor to the accession of Wilhelmina as queen of the Netherlands her subjects offered her a national exhibition with a broad pallet of Dutch regional costumes.
In the eighties and nineties folklore on Belgian stamps reached it high point. These were the years that folklore was very important as a way of incorporating Flemish and Walloon identities in a large Belgium cultural framework. At the same time, in the Netherlands, folklore completely fell out of focus for a new Dutch intelligentsia, for whom folklore had became stale and old fashioned. The contrast is striking. All the more striking is the comeback of folklore in the Netherlands at the beginning of the twenty-first century, symbolized in a series of Dutch folklore stamps in 2006. The author argues that a new and more ironic mode of portraying national identity came into being, with a new symbolic role for folklore.



Wie wat bewaart, heeft wat, zei het vrouwtje, en ze was al tachtig jaar maagd. Spreekwoorden als
Bouwstenen in wellerismen

Summary: Proverbs as building bricks in wellerisms
In the Dutch-speaking territory, wellerisms are often called zeispreuken or apologische spreekwoorden (apology proverbs), in Frisian seispreuken, seiprekwurden, sei-sizwizen or sprekwizen. However, the term ‘wellerismen’, so-called after the characters Samuel and Tony Weller by Charles Dickens who regularly used these, deserves preference above those names, not only because of its international acknowledgement, but also because wellerisms, even if they are frequently mentioned together with proverbs and sayings, are in fact no proverbs nor sayings.
Wellerisms are determined by their formal structure and not the content, which can vary extremely in wellerisms. The introductory part of wellerisms does not contain sayings and only in few cases does it have proverbs. In most cases not even the final piece has an apology. In our collection of 4475 wellerisms from Dutch- and Frisian-speaking parts, only about 6 percent of the wellerisms has a proverb as building brick. When wellerisms do contain a proverb and an after sentence, they are generally younger than the proverbs; the proverbs functions as a citation within the wellerism.
The wellerism can alter an existing proverb without really changing the meaning of the proverb, it can function as an extension of an existing proverb without changing the meaning, quote a proverb in its general meaning, or by attribution to a certain person put things into perspective or criticize, quote a proverb in its general meaning but by attribution to a certain person lend it extra authority and significance, quote an existing proverb in its general meaning and thus illustrating or contextually concretize, by discrepancy between proverb and the contextual situation in which it is used make a parody of the proverb or make its doubtfulness clear, quote a proverb in its original meaning but show its questionability in reality. Furthermore, because of the discrepancy or inconsistency between the original meaning of the quoted proverb and the situation in which it is used or by use of a word or combination of words in different meanings in the quoted proverb and the after sentence or situation description or by the literally interpreting of a solely used figurative proverb, a funny effect can be attained.



Terugkerende doden in modern sagen

Summary: Revenants in modern legends
In our modern society catholic theories representing the dead as poor souls in purgatory have become outdated. Nevertheless secularization could not entirely wipe out the inner human fear of revenants. The past decades the human attitude about death has undergone significant changes.
People have developed many strategies to repress death and especially to avoid the confrontation with the physical aspects of dying. Nowadays people usually worry more about the way in which they will die than about life in the hereafter, if such a hereafter exists at all in their opinion.
In 2002 I started a PhD-project on revenants in Flemish legends. For this research I used a large collection of unpublished traditional and modern Flemish legends that were noted down by students for their thesis on folklore. The most popular motifs in modern Flemish revenant legends are spiritism, vanishing hitchhikers, purposeless revenants and ghost pictures. Especially summoning ghosts appears to be an extremely popular subject in contemporary narrative tradition.
In modern revenant legends the dead are no longer presented as poor souls that need the help of the living. As the focus is on the living and not on the dead, the legends do not provide any information about life in the hereafter, but simply suggest the possibility of the existence of a hereafter and of a postmortal return. In the modern legend the revenant is often an elusive creature from a supernatural world that escapes human control. The ultimate meaninglessness of the supernatural world thus leads to fear and horror. On a certain way the disappearance of the belief in a Christian hereafter seems to have brought the ghosts from primitive prechristian belief conceptions to life again; ghosts that protect the living, but that can also wander as hostile beings whose rest has been disturbed. In a highly rationalized and technological world the modern revenant legend thus reflects our doubts and fears about death that is no longer the exclusive territory of the Church.