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Behold the Proverbs of a People - Proverbial Wisdom in Culture, Literature, and Politics

Behold the Proverbs of a People

Proverbial Wisdom in Culture, Literature, and Politics

By Wolfgang Mieder
Paperback : 9781496814654, 498 pages, September 2017
Hardcover : 9781628461404, 480 pages, October 2014

The preeminent scholar of proverbs addresses the immense cultural impact of proverbs worldwide


The thirteen chapters of this book comprise an intriguing and informative entry into the world of proverb scholarship, illustrating that proverbs have always been and continue to be wisdom's international currency. The first section of the book focuses on the field of paremiology (proverb studies) in general, the spread of Anglo-American proverbs in Europe, and the phenomenon of modern proverbs. The second section analyzes the use of proverbs in the world of politics, including a chapter on President Obama, while the third concentrates on the uses of proverbs in literature. The final section ends with detailed cultural studies of the origin, history, dissemination, use, function, and meaning of specific proverbs.

Noted scholar Wolfgang Mieder shows that proverbs matter in culture, literature, and politics. Proverbs remain part and parcel of oral and written communication, and, he demonstrates, they deserve to be studied from a range of viewpoints. While various chapters deal with a variety of issues and approaches, they cohere through a rhetorical perspective that looks at the text, texture, and context of proverbs as speech acts that make a noteworthy impact on culture and society. Whether proverbs appear in everyday speech, on the radio, on television, in films, on the pages of newspapers or magazines, in advertisements, in literary works, or in political speeches, they serve as formulaic verbal devices to add authoritative weight through tradition, convention, and wisdom.


"Wolfgang Mieder is the world's foremost authority on proverbs, and his new essay collection, Behold the Proverbs of a People, exemplifies the breadth, depth, and humanity of his scholarship."

- Charles Clay Doyle, author of The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs

"Behold in this book the power of the proverb to spin politics, shape social attitudes, and mold culture. Behold the brilliance of the prolific and ebullient Wolfgang Mieder, who in scintillating prose continues to enlighten readers with his fresh interpretations and innovative ideas on the power of language and tradition in pressing discourses of war and peace, race and equality, and place and identity. Behold his global reach and exposal of the local context. Behold in perhaps his most important book to date, reflections on modernity and peoplehood that show insights gained from studying the proverb as the 'wisdom of many.'"

- Simon J. Bronner, Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore at Pennsylvania State University and author of Campus Traditions: Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern Mega-University