Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Geeking Out - Anthropology Style

Illustration from "The Chief's Daughter" by HJ Ford

Franz Boas (1858 – 1942) is considered the "the Father of Modern Anthropology." He collected a great deal of cultural materials and folklore from Alaskan native groups, like those on Baffin Island. Of course, he did much more than that during his career, but the cultural materials he collected were quite significant. My undergraduate studies owed much to the study of Tlingit groups in Alaska and while in college I read quite a bit of Boas’ materials.

Imagine my surprise, while surfing through books on Project Gutenberg, to run across “The Strange Story Book,” by Mrs. Andrew Lang  (edited by Andrew Lang) and illustrated by HJ Ford (my current fave illustrator.) This book has several stories collected by Franz Boas and illustrated by HJ Ford! What could be better, I ask you? I was in total geek heaven! (Unfortunately, the book pretty far out of print so even more cheers for Project Gutenberg.  I just love that site!)

I have to admit to having a soft spot for Eskimo mythological stories (all groups) ever since studying Boas’ work in college. In fact, I tried my hand at writing an Eskimo myth for a scene in my novel. When I read the story to Matt he asked me if it was a real myth. I smiled and said, “no,” it was one of mine. One of the stories in The Strange Story Book, “The Chief’s Daughter,” is remarkably similar to the one I wrote for my own novel AND it has a lovely HJ Ford illustration to go along with it.

Be still my geeky heart. :-D

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