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Wolff’s “Dolomitensagen”, as issued by Athesia in 2003, are introduced by a “Foreword to the first issue” (the present one), by one to the eighth issue (next chapter, much widened) and by one to the ninth (this one will follow). About this first foreword, dated 1913, I have little to add; my remarks are postponed to the next chapter.


It’s now exactly ten years since when I started collecting legends in the Dolomites*). It becomes more and more difficult one year after another. Since when Cassan, a Trading Institute professor in Bolzano, a Fassan by birth, and old Dantone have passed away, it’s almost impossible to receive any more informations from the Fassa valley. (Mr. Hugo von Rossi, at Innsbruck, is the only man to still owns a lot of noteworthy material, which with great caution he tries to further increase). In the other valleys, as far as I know, the hopes to obtain something new are even smaller. People believe that one is trying to mock them, when he asks questions about the “veyes ditsh”, ancient legends and traditions. They even worry denying the existence of what one had learned in their same village years earlier.
The well-informed reader who should browse this book will notice at once that I freely revised the legends. I believed being in my own right to do so, because of the uncompleteness and of the often striking contradictions that are present in the legends. My revision is, however, not arbitrary at all, as I always did my best, although trying to fill voids and level contradictions, to do sot in the spirit of the inhabitants of the Dolomites. Owing to my many-years work in the Dolomites, I believe having become well acquainted with the spirit that pervades the poetry of the inhabitants of the Dolomites. What I had in my mind was a revision of the same type that Indian legends have known by Holtzmann; he, too, integrated and modified, but every time with the strictest respect for the environment and the conceptual world of the ancestral narrators.
With the greatest freedom I revised the tale of the “Great Passion” [in Italian: La Lajadira”, Transl.’s note]; here I grouped together five different legends and tales: “The Great Passion”, “The Glass Mountains”, “The curse of the roses”, “The Layadüra” (with accent on ü) and finally the story of a queen and her subjects. I grouped everything together. “Glass mountains” means the icy peaks of the main Alpine chain (see annotations to the tale). The Layadüra is one of the lakes in Upper Italy, likely the Garda. This legend on a blessed lake landscape is also common in the Grisons.
The “Salvaria” is the word-by-word translation of an original text that I exactly transcribed from the words of a Livinallongo Ladinian. The “Winter Herdsman” [in Italian: The Hut on the Rosengarten, Transl.’s note] is also a changeless rendering.
My collection doesn’t stop at the present book: I specially wish to include the ancient epic of Fassa in a next issue.


Bolzano, July 1913 Karl Felix Wolff



*)This remark has been interpreted by one of my critics in the sense that I only started in 1903 to deal with the tales of the people from the Dolomites. What is true, on the contrary, is that already as a child I heard several such tales and they got impressed into my memory. But in 1903 I started collecting them sistematically on the purpose of publishing them.