By Gillian Bennett
Simply because they're so usually advised as information, modern legends strength us to reevaluate existence as we all know it. They confront us with macabre, exceptional, bad, or hilarious characters and occasions that appear to return directly out of myths and folktales, yet are awarded as state-of-the-art occasions. the trouble is that it's not in any respect effortless to determine no matter if those frequently demanding tales can be handled as trustworthy or disregarded as fable. The legends explored during this ebook are the most weird and wonderful, ugly, and politically delicate tales within the modern legend canon. At any second a physique will be invaded by means of noxious creatures, intentionally contaminated with lethal sickness, or raided to supply donor organs for ailing foreigners. those are "winter's tales," the stuff of nightmares. during this booklet Gillian Bennett strains the cultural background of six legends, famous in Europe and the US from medieval occasions to the current day. showing in broadsides, ballads, myths, historic and glossy legends, novels, performs, motion pictures, tv indicates, and tales informed within the oral culture, those legends aren't simply foolish stories that are brushed off as trivial and unfaithful. They demonstrate a lot in regards to the issues and fears of way of life and display the bounds of information and gear within the glossy global. Gillian Bennett is the writer of "Alas, negative Ghost!": Traditions of trust in tale and Discourse and Traditions of trust: girls and the Supernatural and coauthor of the normal legend bibliography and reader. She lives in Stockport, uk.
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Additional resources for Bodies: Sex, Violence, Disease, and Death in Contemporary Legend
THE BOSOM SERPENT AS MEDICAL FOLKLORE: EXPLAINING WHY WE GET ILL AND HOW WE C A N C U R E O U R S E LV E S In view of the typical emphasis and structure of Bosom Serpent stories told in contemporary legend mode, one way of understanding them may be to treat them as survivals of older medical orthodoxy. ANIMALS INSIDE Unfortunately, however, this is impossible to prove. As in any search for origins, it is possible to prove that a modern tradition resembles an older one, but it cannot be proved that there is a causal link between the two or even a transmission link.
The symptomatology of these infestations fits another group of symptoms particularly well: weakness, pain, vomiting, convulsions, bloating, fever, cough, anorexia combined with hunger, and even the sensation of movement in the body. All may be found in the parasitological literature as well as in descriptions of symptoms in Bosom Serpent stories. The strongest correlation, however, is with liver fluke infestation (fascioliasis hepatica). This is a very unpleasant condition similar to the tropical disease bilharzia (schistosomiasis).
Audible noises are mentioned in a handful of stories and a sensation of something moving in the body in twenty others. In many the pain, sensation of movement, and audible noises are often linked to weight loss (which is again consistent with gastric problems but is interpreted as the creature feeding on the body or stealing the human host’s food). The organs given as the resting place of the creature confirm the impression of digestive disorders. The terms stomach, intestines, bowels, abdomen, and insides, all of which laypeople commonly use to suggest the gastrointestinal tract, between them occur in fifty-seven stories, and the term belly appears in three more.