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The Hebrew Folktale


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Winner 2000 National Jewish Book AwardWinner 1999 Shalom Aleichem Award for the Study of Jewish LiteratureA Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2000

About the Author

Eli Yassif is Professor of Hebrew literature and Jewish Folklore at Tel-Aviv University He is the author of many books including The Study of Jewish Folklore: An Annotated Bibliography, The Golem of Prague, and The Knight, the Demon and the Virgin: An Anthology of Hebrew Stories from the Middle Ages.


The most comprehensive account of its subject now available, this impressive study lives up to the encyclopedic promise of its title. Yassif (Tel Aviv Univ.) examines the Hebrew folktale chronologically in the context of Jewish culture, and so affords thoughtful critical analyses of how the genre evolved and developed through the centuries in terms of the indigenous national literature. After an introduction describing the evolution of modern scholarship on the folktale, Yassif considers five historical periods: biblical, Second Temple, Rabbinic ,Middle Ages, and Changing World-the last delineating the Hasidic story, legends of saints in contemporary Israel, and tales of returning to the faith in a secular society. The discussion in each chapter is dense and lucid; Teitelbaum renders the original Hebrew in fluent, jargon-free English. Yassif brings an extraordinary amount of learning to his task, leaving this reviewer in no doubt that this volume will henceforth be the authoritative reference on the subject. It will also be an invaluable resource for students of narratology in general, since its exposition of folk narrative deals with such modes as the legend, the fable, the fairy tale, the comic tale, the saint's legend, among many other literary forms. Some 80 pages of notes add valuable information concerning source material. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.M. Butovsky, Concordia University, Choice, May 2000

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