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Vol. 10, No.4 Summer 1992 A MAIDEN'S TALE by Jennifer Dowling Jennifer Dowling is a doctoral candidate in Yiddish Folklore at Oxford University: Her principal research interest is Yiddish popular culture of the 17th and 18th centuries. 49 Sometime during the beginning of the eighteenth century, an unknown firm in Amsterdam printed four chapbooks: Mageleyne lid, Mayse fun a kale, Mayse man un vayb, and Mayse fun shloyme hameylekh. I All are exceptionally similar in length (five to six pages, less than 250 lines), structure (long, llowing sentences rhymed at the end of each line-i.e. aabbccdd) and typefont.2 Decoration is sparse, with the exception of the border around the titles and perhaps a flower at the 'All four are LO be found as single copies in the Oppenheim collection of the Bodleian Library. The bibliographical references for the texts are as follows: Mageleyrle lid: A. E. Cowley, Concise Catalogue o/the Hebrew Printed Books in the Bodleian Library (Oxford: Oxford Universily Press, 1929), p. 61: Morits Steinschneider, Catalogus Hebraeorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana (Berlin, 1852-60), p. 566, n. 3658, cf also 3655, .3656 and 3657; Mayse lIlatl Uti uayh: Cowley. p. 92: Sleinschneider, p. 618, n. 3932; and Sara Zfatman, Ha-siporet he-yidish lIle-re,'hita ad "shiukhey ha-Besh"t" (1504-1814), bibliogra/ia 1I1ueret IYiddish Narrative Prose from lis Beginnings LO 'Shivhei ha-Besht' 91504-1814), An Annotaled Bibliographyj (Jerusalem: Hebrew Universiry, 1985), pp. 81-82; Mayse fun Shloyme hameylekh: Cowley, p. 92: Steinschneider; p. 618, n. 3936; and Zfatman, p. 80; Mayse /Utl a kale: Cowley, p. 92; Steinschneider, p. 618, n. 3929; and Zfatman, p. 81. "whether three or four chapbooks were produced by the same author(s) is a question of the differences in semiotic appearance .of the tens and of the care with which the rhyming pattern is adhered LO within each as well as amongst the different chapbooks. The te:xt which is questionable is Mageleyne lid in which the rhyme and semiotic appearance, i.e, that of long lines which rhyme at the end, shown in the other three (with the exception of the last few lines of Mayse man un lJayb) is not kept: while in the other three the author shows great care with his rhyming pattern, in Mageleyne lid, a number of rhymes are not completed, or perhaps are missing. 50 SHOFAR conclusion of the booklet. Of the four, three have never been republished in any form; one, Mageleyne lid, is among four Yiddish books from the "Zigmund and Magdeleyne" cycle which were published between 1698 and 1714. In the present article I examine Mayse fun a kale [A Maiden's Tale],3 discuss its unique relationship with the ocher three works, and make some suggestions as [Q the possible the source for the tale.4 I. The Author As is typical with pre-modern Yiddish literature, and Yiddish chapbooks in particular, the author of these tales chose [Q remain anonymous. 5 Ie is therefore exceedingly difficult [Q determine the identity and credemials of the writer of these tales, or the circumstances under which they were wrinen. What can be said with a degree of certainty is that they were published by the same priming house, at approximately the same time.6 Zfatman has looked at two of the tales? and drawn some°Although the aClual title reads Mayse fun eyn kale, scholars of pre-modern Yiddish agree that the word "eyn" was read as "a," unless "eyn" referred 10 the actual number. This convention is followed throughout Ihis anicle. 'See below for a discussion of the source of Ihe tale proposed by Ma.x Erik (Di geshikhte fun del' yidisher literatur: Fun di eltste tsaytn biz del' haskole-tkufe. Fertsenter-akhtsenter yorhulldert [19281 INew York: Alvchlekher yidishcr kultur-kongres, 1979], p. 336). 'This is common nOl only with Yiddish chapbooks, but with European chapbooks in general. Cf. for example, ViC10r E. Neuburg, Popular Literature, A History and Guide (Harmondswonh: Penguin, 1977) and Margaret SpulTord, Small books alld Pleasant Histories: Popular Fictioll and It,' Readership in Sevellteenth Celltury England (London: Methuen 1981). ''There is some discrepancy on this mailer. Erik claims (p. 330...


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