This article revisits the theoretical approach proposed by the Russian scholar Olga Freidenberg (1926/1987) and suggests that Freidenberg's analytical method, called "motif compass," can be a valuable tool for modern narrative investigations. Although it is relatively unknown and is not currently used in mainstream narratology, the motif compass method offers numerous advantages in studying "narrative DNA" (Ofek et al. 166) and can potentially open new avenues in comparing otherwise unrelated narratives. In order to demonstrate how the aforementioned method operates, the article presents a conceptual diagram and a motif analysis of a story by the Finnish-Swedish writer Tove Jansson titled "The Grey Duchesse." Freidenberg's method, as applied to Jansson's story, helps uncover how unrelated narratives and narrative elements may be considered genetically similar at a conceptual level, provided they stem from the same conceptual network comprised of similar universal images, motifs, and beliefs. The article shows that such genetic similarities are often manifest in various forms across genre and language boundaries.


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pp. 83-102
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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