"Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, Volume VI" by Armistead, Silverman, and Katz.

"Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, Volume VI" by Armistead, Silverman, and Katz.

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Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, Volume VI.
Judeo-Spanish Ballads from Oral Tradition V. Carolingian Ballads (4): Montesinos Collected by Samuel G. Armistead, Joseph H. Silverman, and Israel J. Katz.

Edition and Study by Samuel G. Armistead with Musical Transcriptions and Studies by Israel J. Katz. Editor, Karen L. Olson.

As part of the ongoing multi-volume series, Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, Vol. VI is devoted to an in-depth study of two Judeo-Spanish ballads from Eastern Mediterranean and North African Sephardic communities. These narrative ballads, The Birth of Montesinos and Rosaflorida and Montesinos, were based on a now-lost medieval epic poem derived from the Old French chanson de geste, Aïol et Mirabel. The Montesinos ballads were first printed in 16th-century Spanish ballad broadsides and later reprinted in various early ballad collections published during Spain’s Golden Age. They continued to be sung, especially in the Judeo-Spanish oral tradition, down to the early 20th century. There are also Castilian, Galician, and Sephardic versions of the hero’s birth in the wilderness, while Montesinos’ amorous relationship with Rosaflorida was remembered until fairly recently in Catalonian ballads. This narrative came to be known not only in Spain, but also in Portugal, the Canary Islands, and Cuba.

Chapter 15 concerns the The Birth of Montesinos, the epic hero whose birth, upbringing, and early adventures mirror those of the early 13th-century French hero, Aïol. Before exploring in detail the exact relationship between Montesinos and Aïol, all available versions of the Hispanic ballad are identified and studied, starting with 16th-century versions printed in pliegos sueltos and cancioneros and followed by texts collected from the modern Sephardic oral tradition in Greece and Morocco, and from rural Peninsular communities in Santander, Burgos, and Galicia. We study the possible influence of other Old French, Medieval Italian, Old Spanish, and Old Norse narratives (Doon de la Roche [Reali di Francia], Enrrique fi de Oliva, Olif ok Landre) on the lost Medieval Spanish epic poem that was the immediate ancestor of the Hispanic ballad. The chapter concludes with a study of the epic catalog of the Twelve Peers of France, which figures not only in the Montesinos ballad, but also in numerous other Carolingian romances and epic narratives.

Chapter 16 concerns the ballad of Rosaflorida and Montesinos. Though Montesinos is one of the protagonists, this romance cannot be traced to any known epic ancestor. We study the relatively numerous 15th- and 16th-century versions of Rosaflorida—one of the earliest Spanish ballads documented—together with their various modern Judeo-Spanish, Catalan, Asturian, Castilian, Galician, and Portuguese avatars. Chapter 16 concludes with a study of early Spanish printings and modern Eastern Sephardic versions of the erotic ballad, Tiempo es el caballero (It’s Time to Leave), whose surprise dénouement must have influenced the concluding verses of the Moroccan form of Rosaflorida.

In Appendix I, we study a third ballad, the rare and enigmatic Cabalgada de Peranzules (Peranzules’ Raid), because of its probable Carolingian origin. We were never able to collect this romance during our fieldwork; very probably it became extinct in the oral tradition long before we began collecting. Here we attempt to bring Peranzules into the Romancero’s Carolingian corpus by suggesting that it may be based on a particularly dramatic episode in the late 12th-century Chanson d’Aliscans, the most popular of all the chansons de geste in the cycle of Guillaume d’Orange.

Each chapter is accompanied by Israel J. Katz’s insightful ethnomusicological studies of the ballad tunes. For the first time in the series, we now also include URLS so that readers may listen to the audio recordings of versions studied in the text, at the website of our ballad archive (http://sephardifolklit.illinois.edu/). The volume closes with an extensive bibliography, eight different indices, and an etymological glossary of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish and other loan words, Old Spanish and Judeo-Spanish archaisms and dialect forms.

SeriesEstudios judeoespañoles «Samuel G. Armistead y Joseph Silverman», #7.
ISBN 978-1-58871-231-8 (PB) 408 pp. $98.