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British Outlaws of Literature and History by…

British Outlaws of Literature and History (2011)

by Alexander L. Kaufman

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"British Outlaws" edited by Alexander Kaufman is a collection of twelve essays which attempts to make sense of select outlaw literature of the late medieval period. Part I reviews the historical (nonfiction) aspects of the English justice system with chapters on outlawing women and an explanation of felons, rebels and outlaws. Part II covers the prose of Foulke le Fitz Waryn, not well known and the possible original Robin Hood.

Part III explores the myths of Robin Hood and is a good source for those not familiar with the ballads- myself included. Robin Hood in popular culture differs significantly from the early literature.

Because of the level of difficulty with these essays, I would not attempt to read this book cover to cover. Best to read one chapter and then put aside for another day. Great for those with an interest in medieval literature, not so much for the casual reader. ( )
  RChurch | Jul 16, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book via the Early Reviewers, and was absolutely delighted to receive it. It is a solid collection of essays that will appeal to anyone interested in this period of British history and legend. Like some of the other reviewers, I really enjoyed being introduced to some of the lesser known heroes of folklore. Obviously, the Robin Hood legend is one that has universal, enduring appeal, and the essays presented here do a fine job of exploring some of the reasons for that. ( )
  JuniperHoot | Aug 24, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Kaufman's "British Outlaws" offers a critical and scholarly approach to several literary and historical "outlaws" throughout the UK's history. The essays that are included, most notably focusing on the Robin Hood character, are insightful and offer interesting points of view regarding what I fear is a small offering of Britain's past.

Unfortunately, I seem to think that this book does little that a standard academic database search can't. In short, all of these journal pieces and articles could probably be accessed by anyone who might be interested enough in the subject matter to find them. With a bit more commentary by Kaufman, in order to tie these various pieces together, the collection might prove a bit more unique and interesting.

Also, I found the selection of "outlaws" to be very limited in sight. There are quite a few obvious exclusions, most notably figures such as Guy Fawkes, that seem to leave this collection a bit limp. While it seems like a notable attempt at Kaufman's venture, it unfortunately serves as a piece of interest for a very narrow audience. ( )
  JohnCrawford | Jul 26, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A varied collection of scholarly essays; though it ciontains one very good historical piece Let Her Be Waibed OUtlawing Women in Yorkshire, and includes Jews, Fulke FitzWarin, and the later Welsh trickster hero Twm Shon Catty, it focuses chiefly on the late medieval Robin Hood ballads and their (possible) historical setting. Some articles are heavy on post-modern jargon for my taste, but some do add useful interpretations. ( )
  antiquary | Jul 12, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Another LT win. I'm not positive I'd have even heard of this book without LT, so thanks very much for that!

Many moons ago, I did a thesis on Robin Hood. This was before that Kevin Costner fiasco. I knew there were one or two place I could have gone to pursue Robin Hood studies, but having been out of academia for two decades, I had no idea how what I thought a fairly obscure but extremely interesting subject had grown.

Yes, there are other outlaws covered in the essays in this book (and excellent essays they are) but Robin Hood would of course be the draw. But I would have never thought to study medieval economics through the lens of Robin Hood. Or the advent of the middle class. Or pretty much anything that was addressed by the essays in the book.

I would say this book isn't for the causal reader, especially one whose only knowledge of medieval outlaws comes via the movies and TV. But for any Hood aficionado or medievalist interested in the subject of British outlaws, this book is an excellent find. ( )
  PirateJenny | Jun 26, 2011 |
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Book description
The medieval outlaws of Britain maintain a hold on the present-day imagination, judging by their presence in literature and on film. Exploring the nature of both historical and fictional outlaws, these twelve critical essays survey the literary, historical, and cultural environments that produced them, namely the medieval and early modern periods. Divided into three parts, the text examines the historical records of real outlawed men and women and the representation of Jews in medieval Britain as possible outlaws, outlaws associated specifically with Wales, and the popular figure of Robin Hood and the context of the late medieval poems and plays that feature him as a prominent figure.
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An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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