Prose narrative forms an important component of Old Yiddish literature. These narratives are primarily maasious, a term which designates a variety of narrative forms, from exempla (hagiographical stories) to parables and allegories (mesholim) drawn from the aggadic materials of the Talmud or midroshim. From the appearance of printed books in the sixteenth century up to the period of the Haskalah, so many narrative texts were published that this genre constitutes a substantial part of the original literature in the vernacular. These stories were quite popular with the Jewish reading audience during the Renaissance period. Some of the basic principles of Judaism could be inculcated in a pleasant and instructive form, bringing together humour, comedy, and a casual manner. Furthermore, these vernacular stories make explicit their positioning at the cultural crossroads where the Jewish tradition and world literature meet.
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