An edition and study of Judeo-Spanish ballads collected in Britain
The thesis is the record of the first systematic attempt to collect ballads in the British Sephardic communities (in London and Manchester). Sixty-one ballad texts and fragments were collected between 1981 and 1988. The majority were collected (with their tunes) directly from informants, and represent the traditions of Salonica, Istanbul, Izmir, Tetuan, and Arcila, a town from which few ballads have been collected hitherto. The remainder, ten texts, have been edited from two family manuscript collections, and represent the traditions of Izmir and Tetuan. Although the total number of texts is not high, the number of themes represented (fifty-six) is considerable, and includes a number of rarities. A further nineteen texts, collected for me by my Arcila informant from his mother, resident in Israel, are included in an appendix. An account of the history of the Sephardic community in Britain is included, as are full details of the organization of the project. Of the ballads collected, seven were selected for detailed study: El robo de Dina, El paso del Mar Raja, Don Bueso y su hermana, La mala suegra, Rico Franco, Silvana, La princesa y el segador. These deal with crucial moments in the life of a nation (El paso del Mar Raja), the individual, or the family. While the emphasis in these studies is on the Judeo-Spanish tradition, the ballads are also studied, as is necessary, in the context of the ballad as a whole. Among the topics discussed are the incorporation of Jewish legendary material, and the question of the avoidance of violent or scabrous material in Judea-Spanish tradition. A further point, which transcends the Judeo-Spanish Romancero, is discussed: whether, in view of the fact that the majority of the singers now are women, a "woman's voice" can be recognized in the ballad.