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Life Is Like a Chicken COOP Ladder: A Study of German National Character Through Folklore
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Life Is Like a Chicken COOP Ladder: A Study of German National Character Through Folklore

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  34 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
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 sing ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 1989 by Columbia University Press (first published 1984)
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Aug 15, 2007 Carl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in Freudian interpretations of national culture
Shelves: folklore
I read this for Dundes' lecture course in Folklore, the last semester he taught it before he died. Though it feels excessively Freudian at times, and though his arguments occasionally feel more like a flood of evidence than a carefully plotted defense, I have to admit that he does an excellent job convincing the reader that much of German culture, in folklore and "popular culture" (which is the same thing in an urban setting) may be explained by swaddling techniques, etc. This case study is an e ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing
I took Dundes' classes at UC Berkeley and he is truly eminent in his field. National character or worldview certainly exists and Dundes lays out in this book the essence of German worldview.

Yes Freud and psychoanalysis are imperfect and sometimes sexist, but this book is right on. I flew to Munich in 2004 and I was telling my German seat neighbor about the book and its thesis that Germans are a little "type a" or obsessed with the scatological, and her response to me? "Amazing...this is exactly
Hassan Zakeri
Dec 03, 2013 Hassan Zakeri rated it liked it
This book (essay) is apparently written by a prominent folklorist. The controversial nature of the argument presented in this book is related to preconception of the notion of national character (stereotype) and associating this with the act of excretion for Germans. The evidences gathered in this book are impressive (if correct) and the theoretical attempt for explanation is fair, though I leave its assessment to peer-reviewing folks in academia.
Dec 03, 2008 Brad rated it liked it
While I don't endorse national character as a clearly legible, much less applicable concept, this is one of the great explorations of the scatological.
Emma Rayward
May 11, 2012 Emma Rayward rated it it was ok
I have a number of problems with this book. While his list of sources was impressive and interesting, his argument is fairly unbelievable. He doesn't explain what a 'national character' is, or how it develops. He has a hypocritical stance on it being innate, and being learnt.
There is no mention of ideology or discourse which is far more important to the idea of a nation having similar characteristics.
Interesting read, but highly problematic.
(i'm terrible at writing reviews) but one tiny paragrap
Stuck on Lou
Mar 06, 2008 Stuck on Lou rated it really liked it
This book is wonderful. It contains many weird German sayings, poems, riddles, stories, etc about poop that will keep you entertained for hours. And German jokes are so amazingly unfunny. Example:

Q: What is the difference between a dog and a printer?
A: If one licks a dog in the ass, one must lift its tail, whereas with the printer, that is not the case.

The only reason this book doesn't get 5 stars is that it's really gross and sometimes you feel a little sick while reading it.
May 10, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
I'm experimenting with writing some longer reviews. You can read it here, or go on with your lives:
Sep 15, 2011 Miquela marked it as to-read
Referenced in an article in this month's vf. Sounds just weird enough to be great.
dave dykhouse
This volume is actually written by Alan Dundes, a noted
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