Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/60

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CHAPTER IV.


THE GRATEFUL DEAD AND THE POISON MAIDEN.


One of the most prevalent types of The Grateful Dead is that in which it has combined with The Poison Maiden, a theme almost world-wide in distribution and application. From the time of Benfey and Stephens[1] the connection between the two themes has been regarded as vital. Though Hippe recognised that the stories were perhaps originally independent,[2] he took the compound as his point of departure and derived all other forms from it. As will be seen in the course of our study, such a filiation is exceedingly improbable, if the essential features of The Grateful Dead and The Poison Maiden be closely examined. Hippe went wrong, I should say, in failing to differentiate between what traits belong to the former and what to the latter theme.

As a matter of fact, The Poison Maiden exists in a cycle of its own. Any doubt about this and any necessity of studying the theme in detail here is removed by the valuable monograph of Wilhelm Hertz, Die Sage vom Giftmäddchen[3] in which the literature of the subject has been marshalled with masterly skill. Starting with the

  1. See pp. 1 and 2.
  2. P. 181.
  3. Abhandlungen der k. bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1893, pp. 89-166. Reprinted, with some additional notes by the editor, in Gesammelte Abhandlungen von Wilhelm Hertz, ed. F. von der Leyen, 1905, pp. 156-277.