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Document Details :

Title: Maagdekens bloed dat snijdt zo zoet
Subtitle: Over Heer Halewijn en vergelijkbare verhalen
Author(s): WESTSTEIJN, Johan
Journal: Spiegel der Letteren
Volume: 59    Issue: 4   Date: 2017   
Pages: 427-451
DOI: 10.2143/SDL.59.4.3285373

Abstract :
Het lied van Heer Halewijn, the Dutch version of the European ballad known in English as Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight, has often been compared with the Book of Judith. Here I point out that the Dutch ballad also shares a series of parallels with the classical myth of Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon, as well as with the story of Jalila, an episode from the Arabic folk epic The Story of al-Zir. I argue that these four stories about Halewijn, Judith, Clytemnestra, and Jalila are variants of an international tale type that we can call the tale type of the ‘Avenging Bride’. The juxtaposition of the variants of this type draws attention to the ‘plot rhyme’ between them and thus provides an aesthetic experience. The comparison between these stories allows us to decipher their symbolism. Using the method developed by the folklorist Alan Dundes of comparing tale variants to locate allomotifs, we find a metaphorical relation between the motifs ‘severed head’ and ‘virginity cloth’, i.e. the sheet stained with the blood of the wedding night.

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