The Blood Libel Legend: A Casebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore by Alan Dundes

By Alan Dundes

What will we be aware of of the ability of legend? How can we positioned to relaxation a vicious tale, born greater than 9 centuries in the past but surfacing even at the present time on American tv talkshows? The notorious blood libel legend was once in part answerable for the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the root of persecutions and genuine court trials all through Europe, and exploited in Nazi propaganda. Alan Dundes, during this casebook of an anti-Semitic legend, demonstrates the ability of folklore to persuade proposal and heritage. in response to the blood libel legend, Jews murdered Christian babies to procure blood to make matzah. Dundes has accrued right here the paintings of prime students who study the various assets and gildings of the legend. jointly, their essays represent a forceful assertion by contrast fake accusation. The legend is traced from the homicide of William of Norwich in 1144, one of many first said circumstances of ritualized homicide attributed to Jews, via 19th-century Egyptian studies, Spanish examples, Catholic periodicals, glossy English situations and 20th-century American situations. The essays deal not just with old instances and surveys of blood libel in numerous locales, but in addition with literary renditions of the legend, together with the ballad "Sir Hugh, or the Jew's Daughter" and Chaucer's "The Prioress's Tale". those case stories offer a entire view of the complicated nature of the blood libel legend. The concluding component of the quantity comprises an research of the legend that makes a speciality of Christian false impression of the Jewish banquet of Purim and the kid abuse part of the legend and that makes an attempt to deliver psychoanalytic concept to undergo at the content material of the blood libel legend. the ultimate essay by way of Alan Dundes takes a relatively folkloristic process, studying the legend as a part of the assumption procedure that Christians built approximately Jews. This research of the blood libel legend may still curiosity folklorists, students of Catholicism and Judaism, and plenty of common readers, for it truly is either the literature and the heritage of anit-Semitism.

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Extra resources for The Blood Libel Legend: A Casebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore

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Hugh. We must first trace this be46 Little St. Hugh of Lincoln lief to its source before proceeding further. England, I regret to say, is the source and origin of the myth concerning the practice of ritual murder of young children by Jews in contempt and derision of crucifixion. 3 The myth first arose in connection with the death or murder of the boy William of Norwich in 1144. It sprung fully armed from the vile imagination of an apostate Jew of Cambridge, named after his conversion Theobald. 4 He, for reasons which we are at present unable to penetrate, first suggested that Jews were in the habit of sacrificing little children to gratify their hatred of the Christian religion.

For more about Jacobs' contributions to folklore, see Brian E. Maidment, "Joseph Jacobs and English Folklore in the 1890s," in Studies in the Cultural Life of the Jews in England, ed. Dov Noy and Issachar Ben-Ami, Folklore Research Center Studies 5 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975), pp. 185-96; and Gary Alan Fine, "Joseph Jacobs: A Sociological Folklorist," Folklore 98 (1987): 183-93. For a touching personal reminiscence of Jacobs by his daughter, see May Bradshaw Hays, "Memories of My Father, Joseph Jacobs," The Horn Book Magazine 28 (1952), 385 - 92.

They were published and obtained credence throughout Europe just at the time of the second crusade, when men's religious passions were aroused to fanatical fury, and Jews fell martyrs all along the track of the Crusaders. Ever since his time, whenever a little child has been missing about the Passover, near a Jewish quarter in Europe, it has been but a chance if the terrible suspicion of ritual murder has not again been raised. I have been surprised to find in conversation with Christian friends, who have not the slightest taint of anti-Semitism, how general is the impression that there must be something at the bottom of all these charges, and perhaps for their sakes it may be desirable to point out how impossible it is for Jews as Jews to use human blood or human sacrifices in any way as a part of their religious rites.

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