The beginning of the folktale
The narratives of folktales have a strong influence on both the audience and the tale’s structure. The beginning of the tale includes a set of signals that make the tale coherent and that are associated with aesthetic and social dimensions that integrate with the structural scheme of the tale, whether it is oral or written. The signals pave the way for the tale’s events, plot and solution.
Arab critics have paid a great deal of attention to the folktale and its content, values and components such as characters, narration, time and place, but little consideration has been given to the morphology of the tale and to the significance of the beginning.
The beginning has not received sufficient attention because it is believed that it does not go beyond the traditional. Even when critics analyse the structure of a folktale, they pay insufficient attention to the beginning, to its poetic language and to the role it plays in how the folktale is perceived. This is clearly evident in two leading books in the field: Morphology of the Tale (1970) by renowned Russian folklorist Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp, and Our Folk Tales from Romanticism to Realism (1974) by Egyptian writer Nabilah Ibrahim.
The beginning must attract and capture the audience’s attention. The beginning plays an important role in building suspense, involving the audience and determining how they react to the tale.
The beginning of a folktale helps to set the scene, because the tale’s author and date of origin are unidentifiable. The folktale is a collective art. It is essential to consider the morphology of the folktale’s beginning within the framework of the whole folktale. One must also consider the folktale’s beginning as a significant part of folk literature and other related fields, such as sociology.
Abdul Malik Ashhabun