The Jersey Devil: facts vs. folklore

He's the subject of New Jersey mythology and folklore: the legendary New Jersey Devil, and now a book by Bill Sprouse, "The Domestic Life of the Jersey Devil or Bebop's Miscellany”.

"The question was, for me, New Jersey's not exactly synonymous with authentic folk culture. Sort of synonymous with spray tans and strip malls, superhighways and superfund sites, so the question was how did this story come about? And why does it survive in New Jersey of all places? And what sort of role does it play in peoples' lives?" says Sprouse. 

For Sprouse, his interest all started with his grandma, "BeBop", telling him he's a kin to the Jersey Devil.

"My memory of my reaction to the news that I was related to a flying, fire-breathing monster was 'I think to go back outside and throw rocks at the nearest tree' and that was basically what I did,” Sprouse explained.

Sprouse broke it all down, the facts and the folklore.

According to Sprouse’s book, the story of the Jersey Devil has been a part of southern New Jersey, which says a fire-breathing monster with the head of a horse, bat wings and the body of a kangaroo, is a creature that is said to be the thirteenth child of a Mother Leeds, who put a curse on her unfortunate offspring.

Facts are facts, but folklores are actually a study about how we pass down stories, knowledge, and practices through oral communication.

Either way the Jersey devil has been prowling around the outskirts of our imaginations for about 300 years. 

If you'd like to read more, check out Sprouses' book "The Domestic Life of the Jersey Devil or Bebop's Miscellany" available on Amazon in some local bookstores and at jerseydevilbook.com.

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