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The Folk-tale and its Literary Adaptation: An Analysis of Bialik's "The Tale of Three and Four"—'First Version' and its Variants / בין סיפור-עם לעיבודו הספרותי: עיון ב"אגדת שלשה וארבעה — נוסח אחד" של ביאליק ובגירסאותיה

שמואל ורסס and Shmuel Werses
Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore / מחקרי ירושלים בפולקלור יהודי
כרך ג‎ (תשמ"ב), pp. 67-85
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23356174
Page Count: 19
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The Folk-tale and its Literary Adaptation: An Analysis of Bialik's "The Tale of Three and Four"—'First Version' and its Variants / בין סיפור-עם לעיבודו הספרותי: עיון ב"אגדת שלשה וארבעה — נוסח אחד" של ביאליק ובגירסאותיה
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Abstract

"The Tale of three and four" which tells about the inevitable and predestined marriage of King Solomon's daughter who was locked up in a tower on a lonely island, was adapted by Bialik from a tale in one of the manuscript-versions of the Midrash Tanchuma. Textual comparisons bring forth the contact between Bialik's version and the later interpretation of this tale by M.Y. Bin-Gorion (Berdyczewski) in his book Aggadot ve-Tsfunot, which appeared before Bialik's adaptation (1912). Bibliographical considerations enable us to put 1917 as the date of the first publication of this tale by Bialik. However, Bialik published at the same time a shorter version (1923), significantly abridged, for youth. For some reason, it was this later and shorter version, which was included in the collected works published after his death. The changes and omissions of this version cause certain events in the plot to be inexplicable and thus changes the general character of the tale. Although Bialik preserved idioms and phrases from the old Midrashic source, he still made great innovations both stylistically and descriptively. Bialik's linguistic interpretation was markedly Biblical when compared to the Midrashic style. The original tale was didactic and concentrated, based on reduction and economy of structure; while descriptive elements were overlooked, Bialik does expand the text. He included dialogues, not only for additional information but also in order to reflect the emotional conditions of the characters. A narrator, more clearly present now comments on the heroes. He also indulges in nature descriptions and stresses the intellectual capacities of the young lover of the isolated princess. Bialik highlights gaps in the information which characters have about each other, using ironical synchronization and grotesque situations. He also adhered, apparently unconsciously, to generic norms of the folk-tale as they have been formulated by the scholar of the European folk-tale, Max Lüthi, that is, elements such as isolation and polarity. Time plays special role in Bialik's version. Whereas the old source uses a linear narrative structure, Bialik creates a multiple perspective by employing different narrative elements, both in plot and characterization.

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