Walled-Up Wife

PDF EBook by Alan Dundes

EBook Description

The late Alan Dundes' The Walled- PDFUp Wife: A Casebook collects eighteen chapters recounting and analyzing these fascinating, interconnected ballads as noted in the Goodreads summary above. Walled-Up Wife PDF EBook The historical-geographic comparative approach predominates in this collection, showing how different peoples from Eastern Europe and India made such good use of this shocking motif in what are, by all accounts, remarkable works of folk literature. The articles that ignore this comparative approach, especially those touting any one nation's literary accomplishment with the ballad, appear rather silly in this context, as it becomes apparent that no one culture has a claim on the motifs that have come together so powerfully. The Walled-Up Wife: A Casebook is a triumph in comparative folkloristics.

Of particular note throughout is the remarkable interdependence between the study of ballads, folk practices, and folk cosmology. Excavations have shown that builders often did immure human sacrifices in walls and bridges, and several of the scholars in the collection remark how both the practice and the ballads reflect the popular worldviews along gender and spiritual lines. Throughout, perhaps unintentionally, this collection demonstrates a fundamental interconnectedness between the different folkloristic disciplines and genres.

What may be the best essay in the book eschews the historical-geographical approach in favor of a structuralist critique along gender lines (although, it could be argued, an evaluation along these categories of analysis would have been impossible without the comparative work that came before). Ruth Mandel's article, focusing on a Greek variant of the ballad, breaks down the husband-wife relationship as expressed in these pieces. Consistently, a wife (usually the wife of the "master mason" in the ballads) is shown to be much more precious than the people who were typically sacrificed in these edifices – commonly fools or tramps. Conversely, the ballads underscore that a wife's relationship to a family is more ephemeral than that of parents, siblings, or offspring; download; when protagonists are given the choice, they always choose to sacrifice the wife, often remarking that another wife, perhaps a better one, is always available. This sacrifice is consistently portrayed as tragic, however, and the master mason often ends up killing himself out or grief. (Mandel also makes a more conjectural argument that the sacrifice's female gender indicates that she is a mediator between worlds, including culture/nature and living/dead dichotomies. Though ambitious, this line of thought is ultimately less convincing.)

In his own analysis, Dundes downplays the myth-ritual interpretation of the ballad in favor of a feminist reading emphasizing why the victim "must" be female. Dundes dismissive reasoning is less than compelling, however; failing to account for folk ritual's role in the ballad despite overwhelming empirical evidence would be at least as silly as ignoring the role of gender, and some of the great folklorist's Freudian posturing verges on self-parody.

Most of the chapters in this collection appeared previously as articles in peer-reviewed journals (with a couple of intriguing exceptions). As such, one challenge the reader faces is hearing the same summaries of the core ballads over and over; committing major story elements of "Walled-Up Wife" ballads to memory will not be a problem if you finish the book. Along similar lines, it is both disturbing and enlightening to see how the various scholars tend to "write past" one another. The level of engagement between these papers, though not exactly nil, is not what one would hope for; if you are looking for a debate between specialists, you will not find it here, by and large. This is not Dundes' fault. I have run into the same sort of disregard of peer studies in reviewing scholarship on vampire folklore; it seems that non-specialists are often less assiduous in their literature reviews than one would like. All too often, scholars seem to be reinventing their own particular wheels, and this can be disheartening. Taking this into account, this collection is a sober collection revealing the evolution of folkloristic thought regarding this discordantly fascinating cycle of ballads, though reading it can be tough going at times. Like this book? Read online this: Brand-new ballads .., Wife Insurance (Wife-to-Be Series Book 2).

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