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Little Jack and Other Newfoundland Folktales

{Dr. John Widdowson}
Dr. John Widdowson

Edited by Dr. John Widdowson
Newfoundland has a rich traditional heritage, ranging from its unique and colorful language and placenames, through its customs, stories, music and song, to its historic architecture, arts and crafts. Traditionally, Newfoundlanders made their own entertainment, and they still do so today. They know how to enjoy themselves, and have never lost their sense of humour or their open-hearted friendliness and generous hospitality.

Maybe it is qualities like these that lie behind the survival of so many traditions in the province, including the telling of the older folktales by adults. In the 1960s and 1970s members of the Department of Folklore made serious efforts to record these stories while they were still being told in communities around the province. Then most of the outports were still comparatively isolated, many had no electricity, and were largely uninfluenced by television, tourism, and other more recent developments. These tales were then still part of the traditional entertainment in the homes of mainly elderly storytellers.

Fifty of these folktales are now gathered together in Little Jack — a collection that makes them available to the general reader for the first time.

The tales are presented in the actual words of the storytellers, and reading them, especially reading them aloud, captures their flavour, and gives an appreciation of the language, style and extraordinary skill of those remarkable individuals who kept this tradition alive for us all to share and admire.

The collection is edited by Dr. John Widdowson, who came to Memorial in the 1960s to teach English language and complete his doctoral studies. He later joined the folklore department, serving as head in 1974-75. Along with Drs. George Story and William Kirwin, Dr. Widdowson was co-editor of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Memorial awarded Dr. Widdowson an honorary doctor of letters degree in 2000.

To order a copy of Little Jack, contact the Department of Folklore at folklore@mun.ca or 737-8402.

[Image of Book Cover]

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}