Alan Dundes, in this casebook of an anti-Semitic legend, demonstrates the power of folklore to influence thought and history. According to the blood libel legend, Jews murdered Christian infants to obtain blood to make matzah. Dundes has gathered here the work of leading scholars who examine the varied sources and elaborations of the legend. Collectively, their essays constitute a forceful statement against this false accusation.
The legend is traced from the murder of William of Norwich in 1144, one of the first reported cases of ritualized murder attributed to Jews, through nineteenth-century Egyptian reports, Spanish examples, Catholic periodicals, modern English instances, and twentieth-century American cases. The essays deal not only with historical cases and surveys of blood libel in different locales, but also with literary renditions of the legend, including the ballad “Sir Hugh, or, the Jew’s Daughter” and Chaucer’s “The Prioress’s Tale.”
These case studies provide a comprehensive view of the complex nature of the blood libel legend. The concluding section of the volume includes an analysis of the legend that focuses on Christian misunderstanding of the Jewish feast of Purim and the child abuse component of the legend and that attempts to bring psychoanalytic theory to bear on the content of the blood libel legend. The final essay by Alan Dundes takes a distinctly folkloristic approach, examining the legend as part of the belief system that Christians developed about Jews.
This study of the blood libel legend will interest folklorists, scholars of Catholicism and Judaism, and many general readers, for it is both the literature and the history of anti-Semitism.
Cinderella: A Casebook
Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1988 Library of Congress GR75.C4C4 1988 | Dewey Decimal 398.21
Covering a period of more than one hundred years of work by renowned folklorists, these enlightening essays explore the timeless tale of Cinderella. In addition to the most famous versions of the story (Basile’s Pentamerone, Perrault’s Cendrillon, and the Grimm’s Aschenputtel), this casebook includes articles on other versions of the tale from Russian, English, Chinese, Greek and French folklore. The volume concludes with several interpretive essays, including a psychoanalytic view from Dundes and a critique of the popularization of Cinderella in America.
“Folklorists, scholars of children’s literature, and feminists should appreciate particularly the wide scope of this collection . . . now in paperback with an updated Bibliographical Addendum. . . . Most helpful are the two-page introductions to each variant and to each essay which include a brief overview of the historical times as well as suggested additional sources for more discussion.”—Danny Rochman, Folklore Forum
“A milestone, a near complete source of primary and secondary materials. . . . The selected analytical writing include definitive classic and new discoveries, covering the whole range of methodological modes and theoretical perspectives from early forms and typology to myth-ritual, social-historical, anthropological, and psychoanalytical readings. The annotated bibliography is most helpful, illuminating, and comprehensive, encompassing publications in other Western languages and works by Asianists.”—Chieko Mulhern, Asian Folklore Studies
“One can imagine several dimensions on which psychoanalysts might find such a collection interesting: as examples of applied psychoanalysis, in relation to philosophical and cultural examination of imaginative material, in relation to child development, and in the correlations between folktales of a particular culture and individual histories.”—Kerry Kelly Novick, Psychoanalytic Quarterly
The Cockfight: A Casebook
Edited by Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1994 Library of Congress SF503.C68 1994 | Dewey Decimal 791.8
Originating more than 2500 years ago, cockfighting is one of the oldest documented sports in the world. It has continued to flourish despite bans against it in many countries. In The Cockfight: A Casebook, folklorist Alan Dundes brings together a diverse array of writing on this male-dominated ritual.
Vivid descriptions of cockfights from Puerto Rico, Tahiti, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, and the Philippines complement critical commentaries, from the fourth-century reflections of St. Augustine to contemporary anthropological and psychoanalytic interpretations. The various essays discuss the intricate rules of the cockfight, the ethical question of pitting two equally matched roosters in a fight to the death, the emotional involvement of cockfighters and fans, and the sexual implications of the sport. The result is an enlightening collection for anthropologists, folklorists, sociologists, and psychologists, as well as followers of this ancient blood sport.
The Evil Eye: A Casebook
Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1992 Library of Congress GN475.6.E95 1992 | Dewey Decimal 133.425
The evil eye—the power to inflict illness, damage to property, or even death simply by gazing at or praising someone—is among the most pervasive and powerful folk beliefs in the Indo-European and Semitic world. It is also one of the oldest, judging from its appearance in the Bible and in Sumerian texts five thousand years old. Remnants of the superstition persist today when we drink toasts, tip waiters, and bless sneezers. To avert the evil eye, Muslim women wear veils, baseball players avoid mentioning a no-hitter in progress, and traditional Jews say their business or health is "not bad" (rather than "good").
Though by no means universal, the evil eye continues to be a major factor in the behavior of millions of people living in the Mediterranean and Arab countries, as well as among immigrants to the Americas. This widespread superstition has attracted the attention of many scholars, and the twenty-one essays gathered in this book represent research from diverse perspectives: anthropology, classics, folklore studies, ophthalmology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, sociology, and religious studies. Some essays are fascinating reports of beliefs about the evil eye, from India and Iran to Scotland and Slovak-American communities; others analyze the origin, function, and cultural significance of this folk belief from ancient times to the present day. Editor Alan Dundes concludes the volume by proffering a comprehensive theoretical explanation of the evil eye.
Anyone who has ever knocked on wood to ward off misfortune will enjoy this generous sampling of evil eye scholarship, and may never see the world through the same eyes again.
Alan Dundes continues his exploration of well-loved fairy tales with this casebook on one of the best-known of them all: Little Red Riding Hood.
Following versions of the tale by Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, the essays by an international group of scholars provide an impressive cross-section of theoretical approaches.
The essays of Alan Dundes virtually created the meaning of folklore as an American academic discipline. Yet many of them went quickly out of print after their initial publication in far-flung journals. Brought together for the first time in this volume compiled and edited by Simon Bronner, the selection surveys Dundes's major ideas and emphases, and is introduced by Bronner with a thorough analysis of Dundes's long career, his interpretations, and his inestimable contribution to folklore studies.
Runner-up, the Wayland Hand Award for Folklore and History, 2009
Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook
Edited by Lowell Edmunds and Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1995 Library of Congress GR75.O3O3 1995 | Dewey Decimal 398.352
Classicist Lowell Edmunds and folklorist Alan Dundes both note that “the Oedipus tale is not likely to ever fade from view in Western civilization, [as] the tale continues to pack a critical family drama into a timeless form.” Looking beyond the story related in Sophocles’ drama—the ancient Theban myth of the son who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother—Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook examines variations of the tale from Africa and South America to Eastern Europe and the Pacific. Taking sociological, psychological, anthropological, and structuralist perspectives, the nineteen essays reveal the complexities and multiple meanings of this centuries-old tale.
In addition to the well-known interpretations of the Oedipus myth by Sigmund Freud and James Frazer, this casebook includes insightful selections by an international group of scholars. Essays on a Serbian Oedipus legend by Friedrich Krauss and on a Gypsy version by Mirella Karpati, for example, stress the psychological stages of atonement after the Oedipus figure learns the truth about his actions. Anthropologist Melford E. Spiro investigates the myth’s appearance in Burma and the significance of the mother’s identification with the dragon (the sphinx figure). Vladimir Propp’s essay, translated into English for the first time, and Lowell Edmunds’s theoretical review discuss the relation of the Oedipus story to the larger study of folklore. The result is a comprehensive and fascinating casebook for students of folklore, classical mythology, anthropology, and sociology.
In these stimulating essays, Alan Dundes presents a history of psychoanalytic studies of folklore while also showing how folklore methodology can be used to clarify and validate psychoanalytic theory. Dundes’ work is unique in its symbolic analysis of the ordinary imagination. His data are children’s games, folktales, everyday speech, cultural metaphors for power and prestige, and rituals associated with childbirth.
Isidor Sadger; Edited and introduced by Alan Dundes; Translated by Johanna Micaela Jacobsen and Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 2005 Library of Congress BF109.F74S2413 2005 | Dewey Decimal 150.1952092
This eyewitness account by one of Sigmund Freud's earliest students has been rediscovered for twenty-first-century readers. Isidor Sadger's recollections provide a unique window into the early days of the psychoanalytic movement and also illuminate Freud's own struggles: his delight in wit, his attitudes toward Judaism, and his strong opinions concerning lay, nonmedical psychoanalysts.
As a student, Sadger attended Freud's lectures from 1895 through 1904. Although Sadger was not part of Freud's inner circle, he was a participant observer of Freud's early years as teacher, therapist, and clinician. In 1930, Sadger published the biography Sigmund Freud: Persönliche Erinnerungen, but with the rise of Nazism and World War II, the book was almost lost to the world of psychoanalytic history. Recollecting Freud is a long-lost personal account that provides invaluable insights into Freud and his social, cultural, and intellectual context.
The Vampire: A Casebook
Edited by Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1998 Library of Congress GR830.V3V33 1998 | Dewey Decimal 398.21
Vampires are the most fearsome and fascinating of all creatures of folklore. For the first time, detailed accounts of the vampire and how its tradition developed in different cultures are gathered in one volume by eminent folklorist Alan Dundes. Eleven leading scholars from the fields of Slavic studies, history, anthropology, and psychiatry unearth the true nature of the vampire from its birth in graveyard lore to the modern-day psychiatric patient with a penchant for drinking blood. The Vampire: A Casebook takes this legend out of the realm of literature and film and back to its dark beginnings in folk traditions. The essays examine the history of the word “vampire;” Romanian vampires; Greek vampires; Serbian vampires; the physical attributes of vampires; the killing of vampires; and the possible psychoanalytic underpinnings of vampires. Much more than simply a scary creature of the human imagination, the vampire has been and continues to haunt the lives of all those who encounter it—in reality or in fiction.
Walled-Up Wife: A Casebook
Alan Dundes University of Wisconsin Press, 1996 Library of Congress PN1376.W35 1996 | Dewey Decimal 809.144
For centuries, many Indo-European peoples have sung a poignant ballad about the tragic sacrifice of a female victim to ensure the successful completion of an important undertaking, such as the construction of a building, bridge, or well. The legend, and its many regional and stylistic variations throughout Eastern Europe and India, provides material for an original and engaging casebook of interpretations by folklorists, anthropologists, scholars of comparative religion, and literary critics.
Alan Dundes brings together eighteen essays on this classic ballad, each introduced by his headnotes. Some contributors offer competing nationalistic claims concerning the ballad’s origin, claims now in dispute because of previously overlooked South Asian versions; Ruth Mandel examines gender and power issues in the ballad; Lyubomira Parpulova-Gribble presents a structuralist reading; Krstivoj Kotur proposes a Christian interpretation; Mircea Eliade advocates a myth-ritual reading of blood sacrifices with cosmogonic connections in the Romanian text; and other readings explore female victimization and heroism by seeing the ballad’s theme as a metaphor for marriage, a male-constructed trap seriously restricting women’s freedom and mobility. Dundes concludes the collection with his own feminist and psychoanalytic interpretations of the ballad, followed by suggestions for further reading.
By emphasizing the ballad’s variant forms in diverse cultural contexts, analyzed from different disciplinary perspectives, this volume asks students of folklore to be aware of the multiplicity of approaches available to them in researching folk narrative.