Mariana Tulf

The Anderson Lecture

Bengt af Klintberg

The Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore are pleased to announce that the Anderson Lecture for 2023, The Baby on the Track: A Newspaper Legend with Roots in the 19th Century will be delivered by Bengt af Klintberg.

This year's Anderson lecturer is Bengt af Klintberg, the well-known Swedish folklorist, internationally acclaimed for his work on contemporary legends. His work on legends includes Råttan i pizzan (The Rat in the Pizza) and Den stulna njuren (The Stolen Kidney. Klintberg is so widely known for this that the Swedish word for the genre was for a while klintbergare (i.e. "klintbergers"). He has also studied other aspects of folklore, including Swedish verbal charms. And af Klintberg is also a poet and a visual artist.

The lecture will take place on October 5, at 6.15 P.M, Ülikooli 16- 212, Tartu.


In a novel by a Chinese author, Yu Hua, the birth of the main character takes place in a train toilet. He falls down on the track and survives. During the last thirty years news stories with this content have been reported several times. The event is mostly said to have taken place in China or India. From a folkloristic perspective the story can be defined as a newspaper legend. Like contemporary legends in oral tradition newspaper legends often are about accidents where babies are involved. As opposed to the orally transmitted legends they not seldom have a happy ending; they are published as a counterbalance to all real accidents that daily papers have to report. The oldest version of “The Baby on the Track” was published already in 1888 in a medical journal. The author, the famous physician William Osler, had a reputation for being a practical joker, and it is today difficult to judge if his story is based on a real case or invented by Osler.


More information: Liilia Laaneman-Nekoliak: + 372 737 5304, liilia.laaneman(ät)

Walter Anderson (1885-1962) was the founding professor of the Department. In 2019, its centenary year, the Department resolved to honour the memory of this distinguished scholar of folk narrative by instituting an Annual Lecture to be held each autumn. The lecture is followed by a reception.

You can find more information about Walter Anderson in Wikipedia.


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