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"The Impact of the Medieval Beast Epics upon the Mishlé Shu'alim of Rabbi Berechiah Ha-Nakdan (Summary of a Study in Comparitive Folklore)"
Haim Schwarzbaum
in Aspects of the Medieval Animal Epic, Louvain: Leuven University Press, 1975, 229-240

"In my forthcoming work, The Mishlé Shu`alim (= "Fox Fables") of the 13th century Rabbi Berechiah Ha-Nakdan (a Study in Comparative Fable Lore and Folklore), I have sought to trace the filiation and the various sources of this extremely interesting Mediaeval Hebrew collection of fables. As a matter of fact Rabbi Berechiah's 119 'Fox Fables' have been subjected by me to a thorough folkloristic analysis and comprehensive comparative treatment in conformity with recent achievements in the field of folklore research. I have also succeeded in proving that many different currents of popular literary and oral tradition united in the Middle Ages to form this admirable and rich collection of fables, which opens up new vistas to students of fable lore and folklore. ... Here I should like to emphasize that Rabbi Berechiah was an exquisite anthologist drawing on various Mediaeval European fable collections, such as the numerous Romulus recensions of Aesopic fables, the various Mediaeval Avianus collections, the collection of Marie de France, as well as the different Mediaeval Beast Epics (e.g. the well-known Ecbasis Captivi, the Ysengrimus, the Roman de Renart, etc.). It should however be pointed out that just as his contemporary fabulist, Odo of Cheriton, Rabbi Berechiah rarely follows the texts of his numerous patterns too closely. He himself emphasizes that his versions of the fables are free adaptations containing much additional matter. Here we shall concentrate on the most salient examples showing Rabbi Berechiah's indebtedness to some of the Mediaeval Beast Epics." - Schwarzbaum

Language: English

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