Legend

Legends are the next evolution of narrative; the word comes from the latin ‘legenda’, meaning ‘things to read’, and first appeared in the English language in the late 14th Century.

Whereas the famous German publishers ‘The Brothers Grim’ once describe folklore as historically grounded, legend was proposed by Prof. Timothy R. Tangherlini, in 1990, to be a short (mono-) episodic, traditional and historicized narrative, performed in a conversational mode, reflecting a symbolic representation of belief and collective experiences, serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs.

Legends are given the appearance of historical truth, yet often use metaphors or imagery to explain the unexplainable; attributing events to miracles or the supernatural.  They can still be placed in a realistic historical timeline, but tend to be more representative in the information they convey.

The reason why truth often becomes stretched over time is due to a Chinese whispers effect.  Before the invention of the printing press and the Guttenberg bible, stories were passed on by word of mouth; these stories get distorted as time passes, and the story is adapted to fit current culture and situations.  This occurs on a smaller scale in Comic Books, when a character changes their origin story to fit a newer audience or situation, or reinterpreted to suit the needs of a current story arc, such as The Joker.  Unlike other modern stand alone tales portrayed through books or films, comic books have a greater longevity, spanning even decades.  Due to this, it is not uncommon to reinvent a character; perhaps this is more attributable to the science fiction elements and parallel universes.

Examples of legend include: Robin Hood; Beowulf; King Arthur and Zorro.  Sometimes these embellished characters may be based on a real life character, but in the absence of information, facts are often misplaced and exaggerated, making the legend become further distorted.  When people start to attribute moral meaning to them or the characters, they can become fables and myth.

http://www.international.ucla.edu/korea/people/person.asp?Facultystaff_ID=388

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/oral_tradition/v018/18.1tangherlini.html

http://bestoflegends.org/

http://www.suite101.com/content/the-jokers-changing-comic-book-origins-a114280

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