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

By Alan Dundes

What can we be aware of of the ability of legend? How will we placed to leisure a vicious tale, born greater than 9 centuries in the past but surfacing even this present day on American tv talkshows? The notorious blood libel legend was once in part liable 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 facility of folklore to persuade idea and background. based on the blood libel legend, Jews murdered Christian babies to acquire blood to make matzah. Dundes has accrued right here the paintings of best students who learn the various resources and embellishments 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 suggested instances of ritualized homicide attributed to Jews, via 19th-century Egyptian studies, Spanish examples, Catholic periodicals, smooth English cases and 20th-century American situations. The essays deal not just with ancient situations and surveys of blood libel in numerous locales, but additionally 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 experiences offer a entire view of the complicated nature of the blood libel legend. The concluding portion of the amount comprises an research of the legend that makes a speciality of Christian false impression of the Jewish dinner party of Purim and the kid abuse portion of the legend and that makes an attempt to convey psychoanalytic thought to undergo at the content material of the blood libel legend. the ultimate essay via Alan Dundes takes a fairly folkloristic process, interpreting the legend as a part of the assumption approach that Christians built approximately Jews. This examine of the blood libel legend should still curiosity folklorists, students of Catholicism and Judaism, and lots of common readers, for it truly is either the literature and the historical past of anit-Semitism.

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For an overview of the spread of the accusation, see my "Vabsence d'accusation de meurtre rituel it l'ouest du Rhone," Juifs et ;udaisme de Languedoc, ed. -H. Vicaire and Bernhard Blumenkranz, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 12 (Toulouse, 1977), pp. 235-49. 88. Life, p. 77. 89. See n. 4, above. 40 JOSEPH JACOBS Little St. Hugh of Lincoln: Researches in History, Archaeology, and Legend The case of William of Norwich in 1144 may well have been the first reported instance of ritual murder in England, or anywhere else for that matter, but surely the most famous alleged occurrence of Jewish ritual murder in England is that of Hugh of Lincoln in 1255.

Life, p. 77. 50. Life, pp. 19, 89. 5l. Life, pp. 89-9l. 52. Life, p. 94. 53. Life, pp. 93-94. 54. "St. , 9 (1897): 752. 55. The fascination of some disturbed Christians with a reenactment of the crucifixion is evident in the case of the youth condemned at the council of Oxford in 1222 for piercing his own hands, feet, and side and giving himself out to be Christ: Ralph of Coggeshall, Chronicon Anglicanum, ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Series (London, 1875), p. 190; see also Die Exempla aus dem Sermones feriales des Jakub von Vitry, ed.

But no one was more obsessed with William's sanctity and more likely to make that connection than Thomas himself, especially since it made William a Christ-like figure, thus elevating him above most martyrs-as some of the miracle stories make explicit. Certainly no one devoted more energy to proving the accusation than Thomas; and when his thesis was challenged, he defended it vehemently as if his pride had been injured. For it was his own detective work that had revealed precisely where and how William had died, thereby greatly augmenting his fame.

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