Ženidba Vlahinjić Alije [pjevana]

- Prolog -

The characters and the narrative of the sung version are all the same as those of the dictated version. The difference of length (5883 lines of dictation and 6048 lines of singing) is insignificant. Except for the final disposition of Kuzman, the Christian horse-trainer at the end of the epic, the divergences of incident between the two versions consist only of the presence in one and the absence in the other of certain details, not of any difference such that an event in one version contradicts something described in the other. The overall sequence of the tale is also the same in both.

     The Burden of the Sung Version

    A mass of minute details and redundancies present in the sung version makes it fuller in some parts than the dictated one. Thus, for example, Dizdar Osmanaga's first insulting speech to Alija Vlahinjić in the assembly at Udbina has all the essential ideas of the dictated version in the same order, but at vv. 542-3 there are two lines conceding to Alija the excellence of his military equipment. No such concession occurs in that monologue in the dictated version (although it is present there in numerous other passages).

    The sum of such small accretions in the sung text delays the dispersal of the assembly at Udbina to v. 627. The Alajbeg's command to Zlata finally to choose one of the Bosnians for a husband comes at v. 1193. The order of the Bosnian heroes as they pass in review beneath Zlata's window is a little different, ending with Zlata's question about Alija Vlahinjić at v. 1635:

Mustajbeg of the Lika
Ibrahim Vrcić
Ibro Mejrić
Vilić Husein
Osman Arnautović
Osman Tanković
Mujo Hrnjica
Dizdar Osmanaga
Bojičić Alija
Halil Hrnjica
Tale of Orašac
Ramo of Glamoč
Kozlić Huremaga
Šarac Mahmutaga
Zorić Šabanaga

    The sung version thus omits the names of Arap Mehmedaga, Kurtić Nuhanaga, Zukanaga, Hasan Kunić, Alemkadunić, Hasan of Ribnik, and Selim Velagić; but neither version lists all 34 of the heroes whose suitorship to Zlata is specified by number.

    The Alajbeg's entertainment of the suitors continues through v. 1860. Alija's want of proper betrothal gifts and use of the bear's claw token begins at v. 1960. Zlata's return of the tokens to the suitors and her message that she will come to speak with them ends at v. 2082, more than 450 verses later than in the dictated text.

    Her account of the murder of her brothers and promise of herself to their avenger end at v. 2287. In exchange for his acceptance of the quest, Zlata promises herself to Alija forever at v. 2490.

    Alija stands in the dark hall outside the Christian garrison's drunken mess preparing to fire his pistols at them at v. 2767, fully 600 lines later than the equivalent moment in the dictated version. The binding of Captain Višnjić for the return journey to Klis is more than 700 lines later than the corresponding incident in the dictation (v. 2990). Alija sleeps in the courtyard after his return with Višnjić to the Alajbeg's house in Klis at v. 3182; and after the treason of Dizdar Osmanaga, Višnjić escapes with Zlata and Alija's horse at v. 3266. This is exactly 800 lines later in the sung than in the dictated version.

    The killing of the Christian carpenter and concealment of his corpse are complete at v. 3645. So by the insensible addition of small details and redundancies throughout, the sung version of the epic at this point is nearly 900 verses longer than its dictated equivalent. But with Alija's entrance in disguise into Aršam, the sung narrative begins to be shorter than the dictated. Ruža the innkeeper thus finishes telling Alija of her captivity in Bosnia at v. 4146, only 594 lines later than the corresponding event in the dictation.

    Ruža's report to Alija of Angela's longing for him, and of the girl's close confinement in the new apartment, ends at v. 4295. Re-disguised as a Christian girl, Alija joins the party in Angela's apartment at v. 4625. Alija' molestation of the sleeping Angela comes at v. 4983.

    Thus from v. 4150 through v. 4650 there is never more than five lines' discrepancy in length between this section of the story in the sung and dictated versions. But with Alija's coming into the company of girls, the sung version begins again to be shorter than the dictated. The coition of Alija and Angela, playfully but clearly stated by a whole group of verses in the dictation, is confined to a single verse (5081) in the singing. There is no trace of Angela's beautiful parable of the birds (the Ornithoneiria) in the sung epic. Angela and Zlata agree to share Alija as their common husband by v. 5254.

    The portion of the sung version before Alija's entrance into Aršam, which concerns principally his relations with other men, is thus nearly a thousand lines longer than its dictated counterpart. No single incident is either added or greatly elaborated in the singing; the increments are uniformly minute expansions or redundancies of detail imperceptibly subjoined to a story that is thematically identical in both tellings. But with Alija's coming to Aršam and the corresponding shift of attention from his relations with men to his relationships with women and with femininity in general, the sung version is shorter by nearly the same number of verses (a curtailment approaching 800 lines) as it was longer (a lengthening approaching 1,000 lines) in its first, ‘masculine’ part. One may accordingly observe in a precisely numerical fashion a difference of emphasis upon the ‘romantic-balladic’ elements in the one (dictated) version, and upon the ‘heroic’ and ‘epic’ elements in the other (sung) version. And the difference is, moreover, precisely that: merely a difference of emphasis without the slightest attendant change in any thematic or other traditional component of the story. The romantic ballad and the heroic epic are simply one and the same thing, inextricably and inseparably compounded together in one and the same tradition.

    Angela's deceptive outing to the monastery and the flight of the fugitives to the Korava River occupy verses 5255-5695. The two most significant narrative differences between the sung and the dictated version occur in this section. Here Ruža is not one of the fugitives, and Alija kills the horse-trainer Kuzman together with all the other males at the monastery. Ruža's fate is left entirely unsolved.

    Somewhat more detail is given in this version than in the dictation concerning the discovery and pursuit of the fugitives (vv. 5696-5751). The Muslims in Klis respond to the sound of artillery and go to help Alija (5752-5810). Alija and the two girls cross the Korava River (5811-5872) and are met by the men from Klis (5873-5884). Alija's reckoning with Dizdar Osmanaga ensues (5885-5942). The two marriages of Alija follow swiftly, and he settles with his wives as the male heir in the Alajbeg's house in Klis. Thus he becomes in the end what is otherwise known in Serbo-Croatian as a domazet, i.e., an uxorilocal husband (one dwelling in his wife's father's house like Menelaos in the house of Helen's father Tyndareos in Homeric legend). No mention is made of the forfeiture of Dizdar Osmanaga's property.

     Other Versions

The Poem

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