Fairies, lovers, and glass palaces: French influences on thirteenth-century Hebrew poetry in Spain-the case of Ya'akov ben El'azar's ninth mahberet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article provides an intertextual reading of "The Love of Sahar and Kima," the ninth mahberet of Y'akov ben Elazar's Sefer ha-meshalim. This tale highlights the contrast between physical and spiritual love, feudal and religious constraints, and "courtly" ideas and a parody of those ideas. The paper expands upon the current knowledge of the thematic, structural, and ideological parallels between Y'akov ben Elazar's work and the literature of medieval France, and presents a number of prominent and specific examples that indicate the influence of the Matière de Bretagne on this mahberet. Simultaneously, the paper identifies Ya'kov ben Ela'zar as an original European writer who made use of existing literary models, but who was independent in his muse and inspiration. The originality of this paper lies in the fact that for the first time in scholarly research, it is proven that there are vestiges of the fairy tale in Sefer ha-meshalim, and that this mahberet can be read as a rationalized fairy tale like those in French literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-322
Number of pages26
JournalThe Jewish Quarterly Review
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This is the transcendental component of the story. The hero of the initiation quest is under the influence of a stronger and deeper power stemming from the attraction of the masculine element and the feminine, which is supposed to bring about the connection between the two. This force is part of the fairy’s unearthly nature and was inherited by her rationalized embodiment in the lady. This transition is supported by geography. Eliduc goes in search of a land at war. He recognizes Exeter, England, as the land suffering the most as a result of war, and he offers the king his warrior services in the hope of gaining renown. Sahar undergoes a lethal storm at sea and is washed up on the shores of the city of Tsova. Thus, Exeter and Tsova, the places across the sea, essentially serve as substitutes for the unnamed lands portrayed in those stories more deeply rooted in the Celtic tradition, as in Guigemar.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Fairies, lovers, and glass palaces: French influences on thirteenth-century Hebrew poetry in Spain-the case of Ya'akov ben El'azar's ninth mahberet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this