The Black Ox: A Study in the History of a Folk-Tale (Paperback)
Reprint of Archer Taylor's Study in the History of a Folk-Tale originally published in 1927.
"Such a tale as the "Black Ox," and probably every tale in circulation among the folk, is at the same time a definite entity and an abstraction. It is an entity in the particular form in which it happens to be recorded at any moment; it is an abstraction in the sense that no two versions ever exactly agree and that consequently the tale lives only in endless mutations. The life-history of the "Black Ox" may with some justice be said to be a contradiction in terms, for we have not stopped to define of which version of the "Black Ox" we shall write the history.
The establishment of the normal form is consequently the process of defining just what we mean by the "tale of the Black Ox."