This year I’m presenting with the Medieval Section of the American Folklore Society. I’m investigating the relationship between the medieval tale of Saint Andrew and the Three Questions, in which Andrew saves a bishop’s soul from the devil disguised as a maiden by answering his three riddles. Andrew’s answer to the devil’s last question, “What is the distance between heaven and earth,” isn’t even a real answer, but an acknowledgement of his ignorance: “You would know, because you fell that distance!” I have found analogues of this tale present in modern folktales, including one collected by the Grimms. But more interesting are the ways that the riddle contest is used in medieval religious legends in different contexts. In my paper, I sketch out some of the ways in which the riddle contest moves between different genres and accomplishes different narrative goals.
My panel information is below:
Claiming Authority, Resisting the Devil: How Lay Appropriations Shaped Medieval and Early Modern Traditions
Fredericka Schmadel, “An Uppity Street Nun’s Quest for God”
Steve Stanzak, “Sacred and Secular Narratives: How Saints and Soldiers Decipher the Devil’s Riddles”
Charlotte Artese, “’They Will Not Intercept My Tale’: Oral and Classical Traditions in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus”
Dan Terkla, “The Duchy of Cornwall and Hereford Mappaemundi: Heritage, Patronage, and Commemoration”