The Knight without Boundaries: Yiddish and German Arthurian Wigalois Adaptations


This volume explores a core medieval myth, the tale of an Arthurian knight called Wigalois, and the ways it connects the Yiddish-speaking Jews and the German-speaking non-Jews of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Wigalois / Viduvilt adaptations grow from a multistage process: a German text adapted into Yiddish adapted into German, creating adaptations actively shaped by a minority culture within a majority culture. The Knight without Boundaries examines five key moments in the Wigalois / Viduvilt tradition that highlight transitions between narratological and meta-narratological patterns and audiences of different religious-cultural or lingual background.

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Annegret Oehme, Ph.D. (2016), is an Assistant Professor in the Department of German Studies at the University of Washington. She has published articles on pre-modern German and Yiddish literature in The German Quarterly, Ashkenaz, Daphnis, and Arthuriana, and a short monograph (“He Should Have Listened to His Wife.” The Construction of Women’s Roles in German and Yiddish Pre-modern Wigalois Adaptations [De Gruyter, 2020]).
List of Figures

 1 Adapting Wigalois
 2 The Return of Wigalois: Disentangling a Shared Tradition
 3 A Tradition Revisited: Contemporary Research
 4 The Knight without Boundaries: Reconnecting the Disentangled

1 From Arthurian Romance to Fairy Tale: Concepts of Adaptation in Ammenmährchen and Beyond
 1 Retelling, Transforming, and Transferring Medieval Literature
 2 Ammenmährchen as Adaptation
 3 Storytelling within the Wigalois/Viduvilt Tradition
 4 Conclusion

2 Wigalois: The Heterogeneous Hero and His Narrative World
 1 God and Fortuna’s Chosen One
 2 Between Heathendom and Sorcery
 3 Intertextual Hero(in)es
 4 Conclusion

3 Viduvilt: The Arthurian Knight Who Speaks Yiddish
 1 Viduvilt’s Origins, Humor, and Alterations
 2 Viduvilt as a “Jewish Text”
 3 May God Send the Messiah: Religion and Religious Forces in Viduvilt
 4 Knighthood and the Jewish Imagination
 5 Knighthood in a Nutshell: The Sketch in Cod. Hebr. 255
 6 Arthurian and Anti-Arthurian Adaptations
 7 Conclusion

4 Language Matters: Crossing Linguistic and Ethnocultural Borders in a Seventeenth-Century Yiddish Textbook
 1 Wagenseil’s Textbook: Mission, Audience, and Language Philosophy
 2 Wagenseil’s Artis hof Adaptation as Transcultural Narrative
 3 Wagenseil’s Artis hof as Translational Union
 4 Adaptation and Power
 5 Conclusion

5 An Arthurian Knight on the Chinese Imperial Throne: Navigating Divine Providence and Cosmopolitan Identity in Gabein (1788/1789)
 1 Is That Yiddish?! Text and Edition of Gabein
 2 Nowhere in Camelot: Abandoning the Arthurian Realm
 3 Eastwards: Familiarity and Otherness in the Depiction of China
 4 The Pious Hero
 5 Gabein’s Prayers and Christian Theology
 6 The Chinese Rites Controversy
 7 A Jewish Cosmopolite?
 8 Conclusion
The book aims to raise awareness of the German-Yiddish tradition and will appeal to a broad audience of readers with interests in medieval literature, German and Yiddish literature and culture, German-Jewish history, Adaptation Studies, and Arthurian Studies.
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