10. The Influence of a Fixed Text*

In The Singer of Tales I attempted primarily to describe the workings of a pure oral tradition of narrative song, one in which written texts had no influence, or were nonexistent. [1] A knowledge of the processes of oral composition and transmission in their pure form was necessary for an understanding of such texts as those of the Homeric poems, which we may safely assume were written down before other texts were recorded, in a precollecting era.
Once texts have been written down and are available to those who sing or tell stories, they can in fixed form have an influence on the tradition. With the Homeric rhapsodes we are studying a somewhat different phenomenon from Homer himself, from the aoidos (epic singer, bard). A realization of this difference is especially significant for the medieval period in Europe, where we are surely dealing, to a large extent, perhaps, with texts thus influenced by a préexistent fixed text. The question, therefore, arises: In exactly what ways do the written texts affect the oral tradition? I should like in this paper to address myself briefly to that question and to examine some of the evidence that is furnished by the material in the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature. [2] I shall limit myself here almost entirely to textual or verbal influence. [170]
Among the best songs in the older repertory collected by Vuk Karadžić in the early part of the nineteenth century, those from Tesan Podrugović of Gacko, Hercegovina, are outstanding. [3] In the second volume of Karadžić's collection, the volume that contains the heroic songs of the older period, there are thirteen songs from Podrugović. [4] For all but one of those there is at least one corresponding text in the Parry Collection. I have examined them all and compared each of them with the corresponding Karadžić text to determine what influence, if any, the printed text had on the songs collected approximately one hundred years later.
In this respect, the Parry texts may be divided into three unequal categories. There are some texts (Category A) that seem to be independent of the Karadžić tradition. Category A, provided that we could show that the songs in it are not influenced by other printed collections, could be assumed to be "pure" in their traditional orality. Into Category B, a much larger one than A, we have placed those texts that show a clearly discernible influence of the Karadžić printed text. Category C contains texts that are clearly cases of direct copying or of word-for-word memorization from the songbook. I wish to examine at least one text in each category to see exactly what the differences are between the later and earlier texts, and for this purpose I shall begin with Category C, and with a text from Parry's early days of collecting.
Adam Parry published some of the notes that his father dictated in Dubrovnik as commentary to the first six songs that he collected in 1933. In those notes he included digressions on various subjects that were in his mind as he worked in the field and gained experience in [171] understanding the songs and the processes of traditional composition and transmission. In a portion of "Ćor Huso" (the name that he gave to these writings) that Adam Parry published, Milman Parry, wrote (December 3, 1934) some observations on the subject of the influence of a fixed text. Among the comments that still remain unpublished he made the following remarks about the singer Milovan Vojičić of Nevesinje, Hercegovina: "Milovan from his school days, he told me, had read every word of all the pjesmarice [song books] on which he could lay his hands. At one time, he said, he had a very large collection of his own which later on in days of poverty he sold for ten dinars a kilo. His repertory of the classical Serbian songs, as far as I could judge by his questioning, was very large, and the Ženidba Kralja Vukašina [The Wedding of King Vukašin] (autograph text 29) which I picked at random and asked him to write out for me shows that he had learned those texts with an exactness that varies from the original only in the omission or rearrangement of a few lines and in the reordering or changing of words in the phrase. " What follows illustrates in detail the kinds of differences that exist in another experiment with a song sent by Milovan Vojičić to Parry at Kirkland House, Harvard University.
During the winter of 1933-34, Milovan wrote out himself a version of "Nahod Simeun" and mailed it from Nevesinje on February 19, 1934, to Milman Parry at Kirkland House, Harvard University. [5] The Karadžić text, from Podrugović, has 197 lines; Vojičić's is 198 lines in length. The added line is the last, "Simeun se mladan posvetijo," "The young Simeun became a saint." Of the remaining 197 lines, 116 are identical with Podrugović's text, 79 of them are very close, 2 correspond in meaning but have different wording. No lines from Karadžić are omitted in sense.
In the category of lines that are very close to those of the Karadžić text some reflect only slight differences of pronunciation; for example, "uranijo" for "uranio," "namastir" instead of "manastir," "jevanđelje" for "evanđelje," "zavati" for "zafati," “dvanajes’” for "dvanaest," and so on.
Milovan preferred the normal forms "tebi" and "meni" for the dative of the pronouns "ti" (you, sing.) and "ja" (I) to the dialect forms "tebe" and "mene," and he used the form "đogin" rather than "đogat," meaning "white horse. " [172]
In several lines one preposition is used instead of another: for example, "na obalu," "on the shore," rather than Karadžić's "pod obalu"; and "niz bijelo lice," "down his white face," instead of Karadžić's "od bijela lica," "from his white face."
Other cases of change of a single word are (1) change of verbal aspect, as "posjede đogina" for "usjede đogata," "mounted his white horse" (line 131); (2) avoidance of an obsolete form, as "misli" for "mlidijaše," "thought" (line 8), and "čita" for "čati," "reads" (lines 48 and 141); (3) one epithet for another, as "divno odijelo," "wondrous clothes," for Podrugović's "svjetlo odijelo," "bright clothes" (line 69), and "na noge junačke," "to his heroic feet," instead of "na noge lagane," "to his light feet" (line 126); (4.) in one instance Vojičić has been influenced in his change by the rhetoric of the line; in preferring "namjera je starca namjerila," "the old man intended" (line 5), to "namjera je starca nanijela," "intention came over the old man. " In this latter case, he seems to have liked the combination of cognate verb with cognate noun subject.
Of the changes that effect more than one word the following are typical: (1) in line 53 "šta ti fali," "what is lacking to you," takes the place of "šta je malo," "what is little"; (2) in line 107 Vojičić prefers "zdravlje prifatila," "she accepted his greeting," to "božju pomoć prima," "she received his 'God's help!'" In both cases the alternates are natural replacements.
The most concentrated degree of change (underlined in Vojičić's version in the Parry Collection) is found in lines 23-27:
Karadžić   Parry
Kad je bilo od tri godinice,   Kad mu bilo tri godine dana,
kolik' drugo od sedam godina!   Kolik' drugo od sedam godina!
A kad bilo od sedam godina,   Kad mu bilo sedam godinice,
kolik' drugo od dvanaest ljeta!   Kao drugo od dvanes' godina!
Kad je bilo od dvanaest ljeta,   A kad bilo dvanajes' godina,
kolik' drugo od dvadest godina!   Kolik' drugo od dvades' godina!
  When he was three years old,  
  He was like another of seven!  
  When he was seven years old,  
  He was like another of twelve,  
  When he was twelve years old,  
  He was like another of twenty! {173|174}  
It is useful to see exactly in what way Vojičić's text varies from that in Karadžić, but, in spite of a few details like those just cited, the differences are minimal, and Vojičić's text is very close to that of Podrugović. There are only two lines in the Vojičić text that seem to correspond in general sense with the Karadžić text but to differ from it almost completely in wording. These are lines 37 and 163.
Karadžić Parry
Preskače im Nahod Simeune, Preskače im Nahod Simeune,
preskače im, kamenom odmeče. I pretura kamena s ramena.
In these pairs of lines, Podrugović has repeated the sense of line 36 in the first half of line 37, and in that same line (37) he has also added a new thought. Thus, "Nahod Simeun jumped farther than the rest, / He jumped farther, and hurled the stone." Vojičić has used an equally typical, but not the same, construction. He has made the second idea, that of hurling stones, equal in length to the first idea. "Nahod Simeun jumped farther than the rest, / And he hurled stones from the shoulder, farther than the rest." The difference is one of line economy rather than of sense. In line 163 Podrugović says "Simeune spade od đogata," "Simeon dismounted from the white horse"; Vojičić has it "Skoči Simo sa konja đogina," "Simo jumped from the white horse." They both mean that Simeon dismounted from his white horse. The line construction is different, but the meaning is the same.
In whatever changes there are between these two texts no change in sense takes place, but the copier on occasion exhibits a preference of his own for one phrase or formula rather than another. When we know that he is a singer in his own right, we can see that his slight changes are in the natural direction of the words and phrases that he usually employs in his own singing.
As an example of Category B I have chosen a somewhat unusual case, a song that was recorded from singing on August 23, 1934. The singer was Ilija Mandarić of Vrebac. His version of the well-known song "Marko Kraljević and Musa Kesedžija" is 312 lines in length compared to Karadžić's 281 lines. [6] In the first hundred lines, which are typical of the whole song, approximately 50 percent are identical or very close to [174] the lines in Karadžić. This figure should be compared with the nearly 99 percent identical in Category C. There are 12 lines of Karadžić missing in the Parry text, and 23 lines of the Parry text that are not to be found in Karadžić. There are 25 lines identical save for orthographic variations in both texts. We can follow the differences (underlined in the Parry text) in detail in the first 50 lines.
Karadžić Parry
  Oj! Mili Bože, na svem' tebi fala!
Vino pije Musa Arbanasa Vino pije Musa Keserdžija
U Stambolu, u krčmi bijeloj; U Stanbolu, u krcmi bijeloj;
kad se Musa nakitio vina, Kad se Musa napojijo vina,
onda poče pijan besjediti: Onda poče pijan govoriti
  "Mili Bože, na svem' tebi fala!
"Evo ima devet godinica Ev' imade devet godin' dana
kako dvorim cara u Stambolu: Kako dvorim cara u Stambolu;
ni izdvorih konja ni oružja, Ne izdvori' pare ni dinara
ni dolame nove ni polovne: Nit' aljine nove ni polovne.
al' tako mi moje vjere tvrde, A tako mi moja vjera tvrda,
  I tako me ne rodila majka,
  Već kobila neka bedevija,
odvrć' ću se u ravno primorje, Oj! odvrću se u primorje ravno,
zatvoriću skele oko mora zatvoriću skele oko mora
i drumove okolo primorja, i drumove okolo primorja.
  Tud prolazi carevina blago,
  Na godinu po trista tovara.
  Sve ću blago sebi prigrabiti,
načiniću kulu u primorju, U primorju kuću načiniti,
oko kule gvozdene čengele— Oko kuće gvozdene čengele.
vješaću mu hodže i hadžije!" Vješaću mu 'odže i 'adžije."
Što gođ Ture pjano govorilo, Što je Ture pjano govorilo,
to trijezno bješe učinilo: To trijezno bješe učiniljo.
odvrže se u primorje ravno, Pozadvrže se u primorje ravno,
pozatvara skele oko mora, Pozatvara skele oko mora,
i drumove okolo primorja, I drumove okolo primorja,
kud prolazi carevina blago, E prolazi carevina blago,
na godinu po trista tovara: na godinupo trista tovara {175|176}
sve je Musa sebe ustavio; Sve je sebi blago prigrabijo.
u primorju kulu načinio, U primorju kuću načinijo,
oko kule gvozdene čengele, Oko kule gozdene čengele,
vješa caru hodže i hadžije. Vješa caru 'odže i hadžije.
Kada caru tužbe dodijaše, Jali tužbe caru dodijaše,
  Sve tužeći Musu prokletoga.
  Stade care tražit' megdandžije.
  Jal koji je tamo odlazijo,
  Već Stanbula nikad ne vidijo;
  Sve polomi Musa po primorju.
posla na njga Ćuprilić-vezira Na njeg posla Ćuprilić vezira
i sa njime tri hiljade vojske. I šnjim vojske dvanajest 'iljada.
Kad dođoše u ravno primorje, Kad su došli u primorje ravno,
sve polomi Musa po primorju Sve polomi Musa po primorju
i uvati Ćuprilić-vezira, I uvati Ćuprilić vezira,
saveza mu ruke naopako, Pa mu sveza ruke naopako,
a sveza mu noge ispod konja,  
pa ga posla caru u Stambola. Svezata ga posla u Stanbolu.
Stade care mejdandžije tražit', Oj! Stade care tražit' megdandžije,
obećava nebrojeno blago Obećuje nebrojeno blago.
tko pogubi Musu Kesedžiju;  
kako koji tamo odlazaše,  
već Stambolu on ne dolazaše.  
To se care ljuto zabrinuo;  
  Αl' da vidiš Ćuprilić vezira.
al' mu veli hodža Ćupriliću: Ovako je caru govorijo:
"Gospodine, care od Stambola, "He, čuješ me, care gospodine,
da je sada Kraljeviću Marko, Sad da o'đe Kraljeviću Marko,
zgubio bi Musu Kesedžiju." zgubijo bi Musu Keserdžiju."
Pogleda ga care poprijeko,  
pa on proli suze od očiju:  
  A govori care gospodine:
"Prođi me se, hodža Ćupriliću! "Ne divani, Ćuprilić veziru!
Jer pominješ Kraljevića Marka? {176|177}
I kosti su njemu istrunule: I kosti su ustrunile Marku.
  Što spominješ Kraljevića Marka?
Karadžić Parry
  Oj! Dear God, praise to Thee for all things!
Musa Arbanasa was drinking wine Musa the Highwayman was drinking wine
in a white tavern in Stambol; in a white tavern in Stambol.
when Musa had finished his wine, When Musa had drunk his wine,
then, drunk, he began to speak: Then, drunk, he began to say:
  "Dear God, praise to Thee for all things!
"It is now nine years It is nine years of days
that I have served the sultan in Stambol; that I have served the sultan in Stambol;
I have not earned a horse or arms, I have not earned penny nor pence,
nor a new or used cloak; Nor clothing, new or used.
by my firm faith, By my firm faith,
  May a mother not have borne me,
  But some Bedouin mare!
I shall revolt to the level coastland, I shall revolt to the seacoast level,
I shall close the seaports I shall close the seaports
and the roads on the coast. and the roads on the coast.
  There the imperial monies pass,
  In a year three hundred pack loads;
  I shall seize it all for myself.
I shall build a tower in the coastland, I shall build a house in the coastland,
Around the tower iron hooks; Around the house iron hooks;
I shall hang his priests and pilgrims!" I shall hang his priests and pilgrims.
Whatever the Turk said when drunk, "What the Turk said when drunk,
when sober that he had done: When sober that he had done; {177|178}
he revolted to the coastland level, He rebelled to the coastland level,
he closed the seaports He closed the seaports
and the roads on the coast, and the roads on the coast,
where the imperial monies pass, Well, the imperial monies pass,
in a year three hundred pack loads: In a year three hundred pack loads;
all Musa held for himself; He seized all the money for himself.
in the coastland he built a tower, In the coastland he built a house,
around the tower iron hooks, around the tower iron hooks;
he hanged the sultan's priests and pilgrims. He hanged the sultan's priests and pilgrims.
When the complaints disturbed the sultan, But the complaints disturbed the sultan,
  Complaining about the cursed Musa.
he sent Ćuprilić-vezir against him,  
and with him three thousand soldiers.  
  The sultan began to seek champions,
  But whoever went out there
  Never saw Stambol again.
  Musa destroyed them all on the coastland.
  Against him he sent Ćuprilić vezir
  And with him twelve thousand soldiers.
When they came to the level coastland, When they came to the coastland level,
Musa destroyed them all on the coastland Musa destroyed them all on the coastland,
and captured Ćuprilić-vezir, And captured Ćuprilić vezir,
tied his hands behind him, Then tied his hands behind him,
and tied his legs under his horse,  
then sent him to the sultan in Stambol. Sent him bound to Stambol. {178|179}
The sultan began to seek champions, Oj! the sultan began to seek champions,
he promised countless monies he promises countless monies.
for whoever would kill Musa the Highwayman;  
whenever anyone went out there,  
he did not come back to Stambol.  
This worried the sultan sorely,  
  But then you see Ćuprilić vezir.
but Hodža Ćuprilić said to him: This is what he said to the sultan:
"Master, sultan of Stambol, "Listen to me, sultan, master!
Were Kraljević Marko here now, Were Kraljević Marko here now,
he would kill Musa the Highwayman." He would kill Musa the Highwayman."
The sultan looked at him askance,  
and then wept tears from his eyes:  
  And the sultan, master, said:
"Forget it, Hodža Ćuprilić! "Do not speak idly, Ćuprilić vezir!
Why do you mention Kraljević Marko?  
Even his bones have rotted: Marko's bones have rotted.
This sample shows us patterns similar to those we have seen in Category C, namely, identical lines (though not so numerous) and very close lines. The novelty here is the number of lines in the Parry text that are not in Karadžić and vice versa. One should notice, however, that the new lines in the Parry text consist of (1) the exclamatory line "Mili Bože, na svem tebi fala," "Dear God, thanks be to Thee for all things!" (twice); (2) a common traditional couplet that is an elaboration of the oath of Musa "I tako me ne rodila majka, Već kobila neka bedevija!," "And may a mother not have borne me, but some Bedouin mare!"; (3) three lines concerning the stealing of imperial treasure, lines that have no counterpart in the Karadžić text at that particular place, but are actually found later in Podrugović's text (i.e., Parry lines 17-19 correspond to Karadžić lines 21-23); and (4) Parry lines which concern the fate of those who went out against Musa, namely, that they never returned to Stambol, [179] do not have a counterpart in the same place in the Karadžić text, although once again they are in part to be found later in Podrugović's text (i.e., Parry line 36 equals Karadžić line 36, Parry lines 37-38 equal Karadžić lines 39-40). One should also direct attention to the metathesis of lines 49-50 of Karadžić and Parry lines 56-57. In short, in our sample fifty lines there are no significant additions to the song. What slight novelties there are are exclamatory or elaborative. Elements are found in one place in one text and in a different place in the other. Although the singer is clearly aware of the fixed text and has presumably partly memorized, it is not inviolable and can be departed from.
The remainder of the poem follows in the same pattern of identical, close, and corresponding lines; of omissions and additions; of differences in order. Mandano changes nothing of significance in the story. He does omit the νila's scolding of Marko for fighting on Sunday (a vila is a winged female mountain spirit), but both the voice of the vila and the hidden knife are there, as well as the heart with three serpents. Mandarić closes his song proper with the comment of the serpent that Marko would have had much more trouble had he, the serpent, been awake. Thus he omits Podrugović's ending in which Marko brings Musa's head to the sultan, who is terrified by it. Instead Mandarić finishes with an address to his audience:
Eto tako, moja braćo draga! There you are, my dear brothers!
Eto varai pjesma na poštenje! There is a song in your honor!
Bilo nami od Boga proštenje! May God forgive us!
Nije više, nit' se … There is no more, nor …
Ko me čuo, Bog mu zdravlje dao! God grant health to him who has heard me!
Ko ne čuje, i on zdravo bijo! May he also have health who has not heard me!
Nije više, nit' se perom piše, There is no more, nor is it written by pen,
Jer pisara zaboljela glava, For the writer has a headache,
A nestalo tinte i papira. And there is no more ink or paper.
The dependence of the literate Ilija Mandarić on the Karadžić text is clear, yet his song shows a tendency toward expressing the song in the singer's own words and formulas, a tendency more marked than in [180] Category C, but still not strong enough to free the song from the fixed published text. Category B contains many gradations in relationship to the version of Karadžić. From the example just given, one can range to texts in which there are comparatively few identical lines, less than 10 percent, for instance, and where there is a greater number of corresponding lines with quite different wording, and not only more frequent transference of lines, but the addition of genuinely new material. In other words, Category B is a large and much varied group, covering a full spectrum of variation, leading at last to the independent texts in Category A.
Both the previous singers were literate. The singer of our third example, from Category A, Stanko Pižurica of Rovce in Montenegro, was illiterate. Although he had little voice and even less sense of musical pitch, and although he was awkward with the gusle, he was a fine poet in words, a good storyteller. He sang a version of "Nahod Simeun," the same story we used for Category C. [7] Pižurica's song is, I believe, independent of the Karadžić text. If it has a printed, fixed, songbook version somewhere in its background, that text is not from Podrugović. [8] The first indication of this comes from the fact that Pižurica's song has 305 lines as against the 197 lines of Podrugović's text.
There are no lines completely identical with the version in Karadžić. It is true that in one passage they are somewhat similar. This is the naming scene and the account of the precocious childhood of the hero (variations are underlined in the Parry text).
Karadžić Parry
Iz sanduka čedo izvadio,  
  Pa nosijo čedo u dvorove,
pokrsti ga u svom namastiru,  
  Povijo ga u bijelu svilu,
  U bijelu crvenu svilu.
  Staviše ga u bešiku zlatnu,
  Založiše medom i šećerom,
  Dobaviše kuma igumena,
  Pokrstiše muško čedo ludo,
lijepo mu ime nadenuo, E car mu je ime izđenuo, {181|182}
nadenuo Nahod Simeune. Aj, divno ime, Nahod Simeune.
  U odaju na dvorove bjele,
Ne šće davat' čedo na dojilje,  
već ga 'rani u svom namastiru,  
'rani njega medom i šećerom. Sve ga medom i šećerom hrane,
  Mlijekom ga zadojaše često.
  Nahodu je napredak pošao.
Kad je bila čedu godinica, Kad mu bila godinica dana,
kolik' drugo od tri godinice! Kano drugo od tri godinice.
Kad je bilo od tri godinice, Kad mu bile tri godine dana,
Kolik' drugo od sedam godina! Kano drugo od šes' puno ljeta.
A kad bilo od sedam godina, Kad mu bile šes' godina dana,
kolik' drugo od dvanaest ljeta! Kano drugo od dvanaes' ljeta.
Kad je bilo od dvanaest ljeta, Kad mu bilo dvanaes' godina,
kolik' drugo od dvadest godina! Kano drugo od dvadeset ljeta,
  Od dvadeset ljeta i četiri.
Čudno Simo knjigu izučio Eto care Nahoda nauči,
  Na škole ga mnoge naučijo.
He took the child from the chest,  
  Then he carried the child to the house,
  Wrapped him in white silk,
  In white and red silk.
  He placed him in a golden cradle,
  Fed him on honey and sugar,
  Brought a godfather and iguman
christened him in his monastery, Christened the little male child,
gave him a fine name, The tzar gave him a name,
named him Simeon the Foundling. Aj, a fine name, Simeon the Foundling.
He did not want to give the child to be nursed,  
but fed him in his monastery, In the chamber of the white house, {182|183}
fed him on honey and sugar. Ever he fed him on honey and sugar,
  Frequently gave him milk.
  The Foundling progressed.
When the child was a year old, When he was a year of days,
he was like another of three! As another of three.
When he was three, When he was three years of days,
he was like another of seven! As another of six full years.
And when he was seven, When he was six years of days,
he was like another of twelve! As another of twelve years,
When he was twelve, When he was twelve years,
he was like another of twenty! As another of twenty years,
  Of twenty years and four.
Simeon learned to read wonderfully well. Lo the tzar taught the Foundling,
  Taught him at many schools.
This passage is the closest in Pižurica's text to that in Karadžić, as we saw to be true earlier in Vojičić's text of the same song. Yet Pižurica's text is not nearly so close to Karadžić's as was Vojičić's; there are ten lines without equivalents in the Karadžić text, and two of that text's lines are unmatched in the Parry text. Where there are parallels, the wording is quite divergent for the most part, as can be seen from the underlining. The core of this passage, telling of the phenomenal growth of the foundling is a commonplace theme, a well-known run. In fact the correspondences in the entire section quoted do not necessarily indicate a direct relationship between the Karadžić and Parry texts. They simply point to a set of variants of a common theme.
The poem itself, although dealing with "Nahod Simeun," tells an entirely different, though related, story. The Karadžić text, Podrugović's song, concerns a child found in a chest on the shore of the Danube by a monk who brings him up in his monastery. There is nothing remarkable about the child. Pižurica's song concerns a child found in a vineyard by the Serbian emperor Šćepan and his vizier, Todor. In his version the child, when found, has certain marks that set him apart, a star on his forehead, wolf's hair on his shoulder, a sword depicted on his thigh, fire from his teeth. When Šćepan sees these markings, he decides to keep the child, since he has only a daughter, the beautiful Cvijeta.
In both songs the hero has a precocious childhood as evidenced in the [183] passages quoted. In the Karadžić story other children taunt the foundling for his ignorance of his parenthood, after he has bested them in various sports. As a result Simeon asks permission to set out to find his parents. He wanders in vain for nine years, and on the way back is seen by the Queen of Budim. She summons him to her castle and, when he is drunk, sleeps with him. When Simeon leaves next morning he forgets his Gospel book and returns to the castle for it. There he finds the queen reading the book and weeping. She realizes that she is Simeon's mother, Simeon goes back to the monastery and confesses his sin to the iguman (abbot), who throws him into prison and hurls the key into the Danube. After nine years the iguman remembers Simeon the Foundling. Fishermen catch a fish that contains the key, and when the prison is opened, the sun is shining in it and Simeon is sitting at a golden table with the Gospel book in his hands.
Pižurica’s tale has some points of resemblance to Podrugović's. The place of the taunting friends is taken by Todor the vizier and the twelve dukes. They are jealous of the favors shown Simeon by Emperor Šćepan and plot his downfall. Simeon's wine is drugged and, when he is unconscious, the dukes put him in bed with the emperor's daughter, Cvijeta. Note the basic similarity of the drink and the bed. In one case, however, the pair are guilty of mother-son incest.
The emperor condemns Simeon and Cvijeta to be hanged on a leafless orange tree in the garden. The following morning the tree has blossomed, under it is a church, and in the church are the two young people with crosses in their hands. This is a multiform, of course, of the ending of the Karadžić text. In Pižurica the story continues with the execution of Todor and the twelve dukes. On the day following their execution the orange tree is again withered and beneath it is a lake of blood in which are the twelve dukes and Todor as well as the cup from which Simeon had been drugged.
In view of the considerable divergence in the stories of the two texts and of the common traditional character of their resemblances it is clear that Pižurica's song has not been influenced directly by the Karadžić text in question.
Pižurica's song, however, has elements from other stories that were current in the tradition and combinations and recombinations of them account for Pižurica's song. [9] It was not the influence of any single text [184] that I have found but rather of the normal workings of an oral-traditional literature.
When an oral narrative song has been written down and in one way or another a fixed text of it is made available to traditional singers, it may affect literate bards directly and others indirectly. Yet even when a singer who can write copies it, he makes changes, tending to express some lines in the formulas to which he is most accustomed in his own singing. Even as copyist he remains to some extent a traditional singer. When a singer attempts to memorize the published text, his basic training shines through and enables him to reconstruct lines according to his own creative habits, to rearrange them in the manner he had learned when he was young.
There are many degrees of relationship to the fixed text. At one end of the scale, at its highest point, comes the song that is independent of the published text. At its best this song represents a pure oral tradition. Its value is great and is becoming ever greater because it is rare. At the other end are the songs memorized from the published fixed text. We have observed a few of the degrees in between those extremes. The memorized texts cannot tell us much more about the pure tradition than the published text of which it is a "copy." From the singers and songs that have been influenced by the printed texts, although not to the point of memorizing them, the scholar can learn much about the life of a tradition as it is affected by cultural changes in the traditional society.
We have been investigating what happens in the last degenerative stages of a tradition, when texts have been fixed by being written down, and when those written texts have been disseminated in a literate, or partially literate, community. I have demonstrated the results of true memorization; they are contrasted with the songs that are "composed in performance" in a living and thriving tradition. The evidence I have presented points up the more remarkable aspects of the tradition in its truly creative period.


[ back ] * First published in To Honor Roman Jakobson: Essays on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (11 October 1966), Janua Linguarum, Series Maior, 32, vol. 2 (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1967), 1199-1206. Reprinted by permission of Mouton de Gruyter.
[ back ] 1. Lord, A., 1960.
[ back ] 2. Although, owing to misunderstandings in the small villages in which Parry worked in the early 1930s, the Milman Parry Collection in Widener Library at Harvard University contains some texts that were copied from published songbooks, they are a very small proportion of its more than 12,000 texts. Even the songs that were memorized from fixed texts are comparatively few, because, especially in 1934 and 1935, Parry made a point of not collecting from singers who had learned any of their repertory from the published collections. Those that slipped through due to misrepresentation have proved to be of value in research, but their presence in the collection was accidental. Some were given or sent to Parry unsolicited. Even they can be useful.
[ back ] 3. Vuk Karadžić tells us much about Podrugović in the Introduction to Karadžić, 1958, 4:x-xi. It is worth mentioning that Podrugović did not sing his songs; he recited them. Karadžić notes: "Pesme se, i ženske i junačke, kazuju , kao kad čovek čita iz knjige, tako da se poznaje i stih i odmor (caesura). Stari ljudi pesme deci više kazuju nego pevaju . Sila ljudi i žena ima koje je mlogo lakše namoliti da pesmu kazuju nego da pevaju” (Songs, both women's and heroic, are recited, as when a person reads from a book, so that both the verse and the rest (caesura) are recognizable. Old people recite songs to children rather than sing them. There are many men and women whom it is much easier to ask to recite a song than to sing it). Karadžić, 1958.
[ back ] 4. Karadžić, 1958.
[ back ] 5. Ibid., 1958, vol. 2, no. 13; Parry Text no. 120.
[ back ] 6. Parry Text no. 517; Karadžić, 1958, vol. 2, no. 66.
[ back ] 7. Parry Text no. 6778.
[ back ] 8. Karadžić, 1958, vol. 2, no. 13.
[ back ] 9. For a study of "Nahod Simeun" in a larger context see Lord, A., 1978, 340-348.