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HARRIET GOLDBERG (1926-2001) HARRIET GOLDBERG (1926-2001) Samuel C. Armistead University of California, Davis I first met Harriet Goldberg around 1968, when I was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania.1 Harriet wanted to write a PhD dissertation on Medieval Spanish literature and I was a logical choice to be her advisor. Reading Harriet's thesis was one of those relatively rare and joyous tasks, for which one may perhaps have to suggest a few minor emendations, but the advisor'sjob is essentially reduced to having a very good read and learning a great portion ofnew and fascinating things. In editing Fray Martín de Córdoba'sJardín de nobles doncellas (1971), Harriet knew exactly what she wanted and needed to do and the result was a splendid, richly annotated text. Not infrequently the index cards I wrote as I read her work over thirty years ago still come up in my card files, often providing, to my delight, some new and interesting perspective for my own ongoing research. As I survey now, once again, what Harriet has written over the years, what impresses me first and foremost is her inimitable capacity for discovery, her infallible intuition, her insightful talent for uncovering new and original points ofview, new features, new relationships in and among literary works, works that may have been very well studied earlier on by other scholars, but which had not yet had the good fortune to be approached by Harriet Goldberg. This singular and consistent genius for discovering new perspectives, building critical bridges, 1 * 'these paragraphs reproduce, with a few editorial changes, the introductory remarks read at the session, "Entra mayoy sale abril: Studies in Spanish Popular Literature in Memory of Harriet Goldberg", organized byJoseph T. Snow at the 37th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 2-5, 2002, at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo (Session 80, May 2, 1:30 pm). The list ofWorks Cited is selective. For a detailed evaluation ofHarriet Goldberg's work, I defer to the necrology to be published by Alan Deyermond in Bulletin ofSpanish Studies (Glasgow) (2002. In press). La corónica 31.1 (Fall, 2002): 160-64 162Samuel C. ArmisteadLa corónica 31.1, 2002 calling forth unsuspected analogies, contrasts and differences illuminated Harriet's scholarship again and again. Pathfinding and innovative are the best adjectives that come to mind in seeking to characterize such articles as "Moslem and Christian Literary Portraiture" (1977), "Two Parallel Medieval Commonplaces: Antifeminism and Antisemitism " (1978), "The Several Faces of Ugliness" (1979), "The Literary Portrait of the Child" (1980), "The Dream Report" (1983), "Sexual Humor in Misogynist Exempla" (1983), "Clothing in Tirant-lo-Blanc" (1984), "Deception as a Narrative Function" (1985) and "A Reappraisal of Colour Symbolism" (1992). Not infrequently, Harriet's writings also embodied a rare, ironic sense of humor. We may recall her "Cannibalism in Iberian Narrative: The Dark Side of Gastronomy" (1997). Harriet's discerning, insightful approach to medieval and modern oral-traditional Spanish literature yielded especially significant results in her articles on two brief genres whose treatment by earlier scholarship had hardly progressed beyond the mere compilation of alphabetical lists, unaccompanied by any attempt at interpreting or understanding the texts' functions in context. I am thinking ofHarriet's splendid articles on Riddles (1982-83, 1991) and Proverbs (1986, 1993). I am, of course, particularly attracted to Harriet's magnificent analysis ofJudeo-Spanish proverbs (1993), which is by far the most important publication "ever" as far as that topic is concerned. Other crucially important contributions are, of course, Harriet's meticulous editions of Medieval Spanish works: not only of theJardín de nobles doncellas (1974) already mentioned,"but also her Esopeteystoriado (with Victoria Burrus, 1990) and her microfiche edition of Las ilustres mujeres (1992). Only a brief five years ago, Harriet took on a new, challenging, and notably complex task: her classifications oftraditional narrative motifs in three crucially important medieval literary genres. This project would lead to the publication of indispensable research instruments: her motif indexes of Spanish didactic exempla (1998); of Pan-Hispanic ballads (2000), and of Epic Legends (currently in press). As in all her previous work, in classifying motifs in Old Spanish narratives of epic origin, Harriet took...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 160-164
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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