The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953

Book Reviews

contrary, and Justin L. Smith, in his monumental work, The
War with Mexico (II, 212-213, 450) presents this.
This is probably straining at a gnat in so absorbing a book,
and the rest of the account of Hays's career in the Mexican War
is beyond criticism and well told. It is an excellent biography
and should be the standard work on the career of that most
extraordinary man, Colonel Jack Hays.
EDWARD S. WALLACE
The Healer of Los Olmos and Other Mexican Lore. Edited by
Wilson M. Hudson. Dallas (Southern Methodist University
Press), Texas Folklore Society Publication, No. XXIV, 1951.
Pp. ix + 139. $3.75.
Here is another miscellany of the Texas Folklore Society. It
contains work by four different collectors and authors: J. Frank
Dobie, Ruth Dodson, Soledad Perez, and Wilson M. Hudson.
Dobie opens the series with a few observations on "Charm in
Mexican Folktales." His article illustrates the difference between
the artistic and the scientific folklorist, both of whom have their
place and make their worth-while contributions. Dobie himself
is an artistic folklorist. He chooses only those folktales which
appeal to his artistic taste and discards all others. For him the
act of writing a folktale is a new work of art, distinct from his
informant's act of telling the same tale. What we get from him,
therefore, is not the original version of the oral tale, but a new
version, with Dobie as informant. Into this new version has
gone Dobie's highly educated set of artistic values, expressed
both in his selection of materials and in his elaborations upon
them. There is no harm in this. Every teller of oral tales does
exactly the same thing. That's why his version differs in detail
from all others. That's what makes folklore a living, growing
thing, rather than the static written record of literature.
The scientific folklorist, whom Dobie condemns, is more
humble. He does not set himself up as the only possible judge
of what is good and bad in folklore. He realizes that whatever
his informant tells him is good by the informant's standards;
otherwise the informant would not repeat it. For the informant,
also, is an artist. He is apt, as Dobie points out, to pass on

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/. Accessed September 17, 2014.