"A megcsalt férj", or Cunningly Lingual Wives in Hungarian Ballad Tradition

Louise O. Vasvári


The European ballad, an orally-performed narrative song, developed in the medieval period with many cross-fertilizations among ballad types in various language areas. Nevertheless, to date there have appeared only a handful of comparative studies of these pan-european themes, with investigations dominated by the Finnish geographical school, whose primary interest is in finding genetic archetypes. In this study, my aim is, rather, to do a typological and stylistic analysis of one wide-circulating song-type, known in many variants throughout the continent, some in comic and others in tragic versions. The ballad I shall analyze appears in Hungarian in several variants as "A megcsalt ferj," in Anglo-American tradition - recorded in over 400 variants – the ballad is known as "Our Goodman," or "The Cuckold's Song," or, in more blatantly obscene versions as "The Old Man Came Home" and "Home Drunk Cam' I". There also exist Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, and even Yiddish versions, all of which I shall be taking into consideration.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2009.16

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