The Ballad and its Pasts
Title Details

242 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

3 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

The Ballad and its Pasts

Literary Histories and the Play of Memory

by David Atkinson

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
A new approach to the mysterious ballads, and their relationship with the past.
Katharine Briggs Award 2018: Runner Up

The ballad genre, and its material, are frequently backward-looking in terms of subject and style: it is ideally suited to the reimagining of past events, both real and fictional. This volume addresses the past of the ballad and the past in the ballad. It challenges existing scholarship by embracing discontinuity rather than continuity, seeing the ballad as belonging to a culture of cheap printand imaginative literature rather than the rarefied construct of a mythical "folk". It finds a conscious antiquarianism and medievalism reinterpreting the genre at different stages of its literary history, at the same time as theballad itself is continually adapting to the needs of readers, singers, and audience.
Chapters cover the few remaining examples of the medieval ballad, and Thomas Percy's medievalism; David Mallet's "William and Margaret" andthe beginnings of the gothic mode early in the eighteenth century; ballads of "Sir James the Rose" and the culture of cheap print in Scotland from the late eighteenth through to the early twentieth century; shipwreck ballads on the loss of the Ramillies and "Sir Patrick Spens", and the reimagining of the past in the present, with a diversion into Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode"; murder ballads, special providence, and the history of mentalities from earlymodern to Victorian times.

DAVID ATKINSON is Honorary Research Fellow at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen.
The Ballad and the Idea of the Past
Survival and Revival: The Medieval Ballad and Ballad Medievalism
Gothic Beginnings: Dead Lovers Return
Imitations of Ancient Ballads?: Swordsmen in the Landscape
The Idea of a Memory: Worse Things Happen at Sea
Providence and the (Re-)Ordering of Reality: Murder Will Out?
Afterword
Select Bibliography
"Katharine Briggs Award 2018: Runner Up" .
"Atkinson's readings . . . prove to be critical, and critically needed, engagements that seek to account for examples that disrupt the narratives of literary history without entirely scrapping that history." HUNTINGTON LIBRARY QUARTERLY
"Both ballad and literary scholars will have their understanding of how ballads encode the past enriched. Throughout, Atkinson is scrupulous about what claims his evidence will bear; he knows the archive is far from neat, and his prudence makes his ambitious claims about the ballad more persuasive." MODERN PHILOLOGY
"Atkinson rightly points to the importance of the past - not only in creating the histories of the ballad, but also within the texts themselves. His analysis is based on careful scrutiny of the available texts and histories: he points us in the direction of a fuller and richer history." MUSICULTURES
"One of the most important contributions of this book is its reflexivity. It calls on ballad scholars and folklorists to critically examine the history of ballad studies, and it reminds us how certain aspects of previous scholarship have been influenced by an interest in the past and a stereotypical desire to see tradition as an age-old thing being continuously handed down from the past." Journal of Folklore Research

Hardcover

9781843844921

March 2018

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9781787442252

March 2018

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Title Details

242 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

3 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: D.S.Brewer