The Lady with the Serpent’s Tail: Hybridity and the Dutch Meluzine

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Title of host publicationMelusine’s Footprint
DatePublished - Nov 2017
Pages132-145
Number of pages14
PublisherBrill
Place of PublicationLeiden
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-35595-8
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-31508-2

Publication series

NameExplorations in Medieval Culture
PublisherBrill
Volume4

Abstract

This essay examines what happened to the Mélusine figure as her legend spread to the Low Countries. The starting point is a small statue on top of a former guild house in Ghent, which—unlike most contemporary fifteenth-century depictions—shows Mélusine as a hybrid figure rather than a serpent. To shed light on the mystery of this hybrid form, the discussion turns to clues found in the hitherto largely neglected Middle Dutch Meluzine translation, of which there are three surviving witnesses: the incunable printed by Gheraert Leeu in 1491, the edition printed by Henrick Eckert van Homberch in 1510, and Hieronymus Verdussen’s 1602 edition. Close examination reveals that the concept of hybridity is central to the Dutch Meluzine. It is the only version based on different French redactions , the translator greatly emphasizes Meluzine’s hybrid nature, and her half-serpent form is also given a prominent position in the editions’ iconographies.

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