Talk:Frame story

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old talk[edit]

Currently his article defines a frame story exclusively as an overarching narrative for a collection of short stories. I think of it as a more general concept of a ('story' or 'stories')-within-a-story, as was covered before the frame story/narrative merge. So this entry would include things like 'Turn of the screw' and 'Heart of Darkness' where the framing narrative serves as an intro and postscript to the main framed story.

Moreover currently Story within a story redirects here! So things like the play-within-the-play in hamlet should be in here. But a google of 'framing narrative' indicates it should be otherwise.

My suggestion would be to resusitate Story within a story and include the current material there plus some historical stuff from previous incarnations.

I'm a newbie so any input would be greatly appreciated. cheers --harry 14:37, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I was thinking the same thing as I read this article, actually. Problem is, I can't come up with a concise and clear way to phrase a better definition. Anyone else have any ideas? Hbackman 22:14, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
See frame story --Wetman 16:51, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Hi, I originally added Metamorphoses meaning the Ovid. I know it's borderline, but in the masses of stories branching into other stories, I think there are a few that act as frame tales. Someone changed this to The Golden Ass, figuring it was a disambig issue since Golden Ass is also sometimes known as the Metamorphoses. I just wanted to make sure that Golden Ass really is a frame story (haven't read it), and not just that someone assumed I must have meant Golden Ass because they didn't think the Ovid qualified.


I feel this page should be redirected to Frame Story; it covers more briefly material that is treated there.

The framing devices mentioned here need not be any form of frame story. Goldfritha 01:13, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Goldfritha in that framing devices and frame stories are not necessarily one in the same. There is a clear difference between the Decameron and the plays-witin-a-play of Hamlet or A Midsummer's Night Dream. Framing narratives for collections of stories were/are a literary movement whose hayday lasted over two thousand years and across many cultures. There should be a seperate article to discuss works like the Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Tales of a Wayside Inn, and other story collections that are nestled within frame stories.--Cassmus 08:46, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps a source for some of the confusion is in thinking that the action of A Midsummer's Night Dream is a frame story for "Pyramus and Thisbe".--Wetman 16:51, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
Would then a framing story be a specific type of framing device? --Gbleem 19:02, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Right, the only difference being that a framing device is not narrative, for instance as in allegories presented as if they were a series of floats in a parade: "...and then methought I saw...". Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is presented as if it were a dream: there's a quite standard minimally narrative framing device. Martianus Capella's book after book of didactic allegories are all offered as if taking place at the wedding of Philology and Mercury. --Wetman 19:42, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree about Hamlet or A Midsummer's Night Dream, but then you have The Taming of the Shrew, where the play-within-the-play is the main story. Where does that device fit in? --Syd Henderson 06:46, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I hope that it was understood that, when I suggested that the action of A Midsummer's Night Dream might be misunderstood as a frame story for "Pyramus and Thisbe", it was a joke. --Wetman 10:40, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Origins and influences[edit]

The "frame story" is putting into fiction an occurence that was very common indeed in real life: someone, or some people, telling other stories. There is no need for any literary model to explain it.

Assertions that one cultures' frame stories caused another's would need evidence. Goldfritha 17:02, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Nah, every genre has an origin. Here is just one sample source (2nd paragraph), but I'll see if I can find more sources. -- Stbalbach 17:23, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I can't get at your reference. And genres don't necessarily have an origin. Many genres have been invented repeatedly. Goldfritha 19:09, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Writing is not that old, we know what exists, when it existed, and where. Obviously there may be non-extant texts which we can theorize about, but that's not a scientific approach to the problem. If you have a source that says this genre has no origin, please do add it. -- Stbalbach 14:24, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
I have not asserted that the genre has no origin and therefore I need no reference.
YOU are asserting that giving the existence of these works, we can deduce that one caused the other. That is not a scientific approach to the problem. The scientific approach to the problem is to put in nothing that is not substantiated.
And while this is interesting in the abstract, in addition, your speculation about origins, however well-founded, is OR. What does the one reference you provided say, since it's inaccessible? Goldfritha 15:43, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
The references are discussed in the article on Michael E. J. Witzel, per the footnote. I think the article is pretty clear that, in the abstract, frame tales are as old as storytelling, but that there is a tradition of collections of tales which originated in India and worked their way westward changing slightly with each new culture - this tradition is generally what people mean when they talk about frame tales, and not frame tales in some abstract theoretical sense that no one can read or know about. -- Stbalbach 16:19, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
The article very clearly does not contains the information you are claiming about a tradition of collections of stories. Furthermore, the article is not about a specific tradition, it is about frame stories.
As for the reference "See the work of Michael E. J. Witzel (1986,1987)" -- that is absurd. Give the names of the works if they are references. Goldfritha 18:06, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
Ok clarified. -- Stbalbach 14:21, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Better. However, to say "scholars" is overbroad, as you have only provided a reference to one scholar doing so. I have modified. Goldfritha 00:14, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure why your trying to downplay it, Witzel's work is widely cited and accepted by linguistics experts, it's not just one person. It looks like you are unfamiliar with current scholarship and are basing things on how you think it should be based on a common sense approach. -- Stbalbach 15:28, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure why you are boosting it so heavily. You provided a reference that one scholar holds this -- what is so horrible about having the article match the reference? You have not provided a reference that this is "accepted by linguistics experts" -- why should that be put in the article? Goldfritha 01:29, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Because I've done my research and found that Witzel is the leading authority on this subject widely cited all over the place. I could easily support that with lots of references from other scholars, but it seems like a waste of time and space to show his work is replicated all over the place. That is what we are supposed to do at Wikipedia, research report on what people say and do. How much research have you done? Do you think there is a contrary view? You seem to imply so. Re: this sentence:
The idea of a narrator telling a story within a story is probably as old as storytelling itself and is a part of many oral folk tale traditions.
I wrote that, but made it up, based on what seemed like common sense and your comments. But, I have no idea if it is true or not - in fact I now suspect it isn't - not until I read Decameron and Arabian Nights did I fully understand what is meant by the frame take genre, it was a new experience for me, that I have never seen anywhere else, which according to Witzel originated in India. So the balls in your court to support that statement if you want to keep it. -- Stbalbach 18:12, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
Then you should cite your evidence.
Furthermore, this article is about "frame stories". It is not about Witzel's theories about fairy-tale frame stories. Certainly not under the title "Origins" and possibly not at all. You should not present it as an origin for "frame stories." Goldfritha 02:53, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
No, you should cite your evidence. You said frame tales are common in all cultures and have no origin, and when I asked for evidence, none was provided. So I deleted that statement, and you have made no effort to restore it or back up your claim, which concerns me because now I wonder how much you really know about this subject. I've already spent considerable time researching this topic and Witzel's work is considered authoritative and cited by many scholars (this is easily verifiable on Google Books) - and I have found nothing to the contrary, it's not controversial (just some older pre-Witzel stuff that is not contradictory). I'm sorry if this shatters any pre-conceptions, or if Witzel's work is unfamiliar to you, but I would suggest reading it and researching further on your own. I'm sure you'll say "cite your sources", and I have, Witzel, read it. -- Stbalbach 15:02, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense. I said no such thing.
I said that any claims about its origins need to have references. You make the claims, you provide the references. Your statement that "Witzel's work is considered authoritative and cited by many scholars" needs to have references. Goldfritha 00:51, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
The article is referenced. As for references in a talk page - if you don't believe me (not sure why), look it up in Google Books. It's also unclear where your getting "fairy tale" from -- these are not "fairy tale" and the section makes no mention of fairy tales. -- Stbalbach 14:47, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
Another thought is that the general idea of a story within a story is covered in the article Story within a story, while "frame tale" is a more specific term usually used in reference to the literary genre that started in India and found in Arabian Nights, Decameron and others. -- Stbalbach 15:52, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, that thought is wrong. "Frame story" is any story told for the purposes of telling another story in it. Goldfritha 18:34, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Request for comments[edit]

This is a dispute about the prominence given to the theories of Michael E. J. Witzel in this article. They are being listed as the origin of the frame story, and furthermore are listed first on the page. 18:34, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Statements from the editors involved in the dispute[edit]

The theory, as enumerated here, does not contain the origin of the frame story as such. It describes the origin of a specific type of frame story: the fairy tale collection. Calling this the "origin" is much in excess of the references provided. Also, one specific type of collection should not be the opening section. If there is no evidence about where frame stories in general originated, nothing ought to be said about it. (Note that Stbalbach has claimed that I have said that frame stories have no origin. This is obviously false. But that they must have an origin is no evidence that any given claimed origin is true.) Goldfritha 18:34, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Goldfritha, we are certainly allowed, and encouraged, to report on theories about the origins of frame tales at Wikipedia, so long as they are sourced. Anyone doing basic research on this topic will find that Michael E. J. Witzel is the leading authority on this topic, and there are no other theories or controversy that I have been able to find, it seems to be the prevailing mainstream view in academia. Also, these are not "fairy tale collections", that is an entirely different genre and article, not sure where your getting "fairy tale" from, these are frame tales. -- Stbalbach 14:35, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
These are one kind of frame story, those that are fairy tale collections. "Frame story" is routinely used for stories that have nothing to do with Witzel's theories. Goldfritha 01:38, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
For instance, the form of frame story known as a "dream vision" was a common trope in medieval literature and instances of it go back to classical Roman literature. This long predates to the Decameron. Goldfritha 18:11, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, "fairy tale" didn't enter the English language until the 17th century - I imagine people who study fairy tales call them that by analogy, kind of like some people call the Bayeux Tapestry and medieval illuminated manuscripts early "comics". Anyway, all I know is what the sources say - do a Google Books search on "frame tale origins". -- Stbalbach 16:39, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Ok -- do a Google Books search on "frame tale origins". Get back, "Your search - "frame tale origins" - did not match any documents."
If you meant without quotes, well -- I don't find the results support your claim. Certainly none of the first page did. Goldfritha 02:31, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
To be more precise, they don't even address it. Goldfritha 02:32, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
By the way, whatever do your statements about the origin of the term "fairy tales" have to do with frame stories? The term comes from Madame D'Aulnoy's naming her collection Contes de fée. Goldfritha 03:14, 2 January 2007 (UTC)


I'm sorry, what is this dispute even about? It may or may not be true that frame tales are as old as storytelling, it just so happens that the earliest examples preserved date to Classical India. The literary influence of the Panchatantra in the West is undisputed. I see no problem at all with the statement as made in the article. Kindly review ancient literature: It just so happens that no instance before the Homer's Odyssey and the Sanskrit Epics is known. dab (ūíĀ≥) 10:21, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, book X: The story of Orpheus is set up as a frame for the subsequent stories, and during his recitation of the story of Venus and Adonis, that in turn becomes a frame for the story of Hippomenes and Atalanta. The earliest Indian reference is 1st century B.C.E., not far off the mark from Ovid--though the Metamorphoses weren't completed until after his exile in 8 C.E. As for the comment in the lower "origins" section from M a s: "What about Gilgamesh? Or the Oddysey? Or Job? Did the idea of a frame tale happen only in India first and then spread out to the west? Doubt it." The idea of a character within a story relating a related tale is certainly an older idea, and the Oddyssey certainly has its share--but I think the distinction here is of stories that are specifically structured to relate a tale, where the story being related is more important and the story of the storyteller is a structure. (The Odyssey is in one regard a good example, because the nature of the narrator lends a sense of doubt to the story being told, exemplifying one of many reasons why this type of structure might be used. However, it is not structured to relate these stories; rather, the stories support the plot.) It might be more useful to just mention various works where the concept arises (in part or in full), rather than asserting that frame stories "...gradually spread west through the centuries." Beldhyr (talk) 09:58, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Seems pretty clear cut to me. Wikipedia's content policy requires all claims to be properly sourced. In this case, User:Stbalbach seems to be confident that Witzel can be cited to support the claim, so they should find the specific citation and add it to the article. If they cannot find a specific citation, the claim should be removed from the article. --IYY (talk) 16:59, 8 August 2015 (UTC)

princess bride[edit]

hi, i'm new to this whole editing thing but i thought you should know, the novel of Princess Bride actually has the dad reading the story to his son not the grandfather to his grandson (as shown in the movie), so maybe that should be specified. ‚ÄĒPreceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:10, 11 December 2007 (UTC)


I'm just a newbie, and might be putting my feet in deep water here, but I found the Origins section very helpful and easy to read, apart from the constantly intrusive 'citation needed' markers. To the general user they are extremely annoying. Is there not a better way to alert users, such as a small disclaimer at the start of the section?

I removed the tags and then checked the discussion board, and realised wht I might have just stepped in. Foolish of me, I am sure. Best wishes. (talk) 11:06, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Don't trust wikipedia without sources my friend. The cn's are added to highten some far-reaching comments. Who claims that everything came from India and then was sent west? Perhaps an Indian nationalist?
What about Gilgamesh? Or the Oddysey? Or Job? Did the idea of a frame tale happen only in India first and then spread out to the west? Doubt it.
Cheers. --M a s (talk) 15:11, 17 May 2008 (UTC)


"Anatomy" inserted in the opening will be mysterious to most readers, and perhaps is so to most editors, too. I shall delete it there, but perhaps some editor will add a section on "anatomy" as a framing device (not a frame story, after all). Or not.--Wetman (talk) 17:20, 14 May 2010 (UTC)