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Life is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder

A Study of German National Character through Folklore

Alan Dundes

Folklore, German Studies

Paperback
Published: June 1989
ISBN: 9780814320389
Pages: 192 Size: 5.5x8
Illustrations: 14
Review

A work of major importance that demonstrates the value of folklore for understanding national character.

— Germanic Review

Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder was first published in 1984 and from the outset inspired a wide variety of reactions ranging from high praise to utter disgust. Alan Dundes' theses identifies a strong anal erotic element in German national character, citing numerous examples of scatological data from authentic compilations of German folklore. The examination of this single trait of German character is used to demonstrate that national character exists and that its existence is unambiguously documented by the folklore of a nation. Dundes is of the opinion that the use of folkloristic data minimizes subjective bias in the study of national character, since unedited or uncensored, it constitutes a unique way of looking at a culture from the inside-out rather than from the outside-in, the more typical situation of an outside observer trying to understand a foreign culture.

Alan Dundes is a professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California at Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University.

A work of major importance that demonstrates the value of folklore for understanding national character.

– Germanic Review

Entertaining yet erudite, amusing as well as profound. The author skillfully links together Mozart and sausages, brass bands and anti-Semitism, all to produce an impressive overall picture of a people.

– The Wall Street Journal, Europe