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The gest of Robin Hood by William Hall…
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Recently added bywaltzmn, bjbookman
  1. 00
    Robin Hood by J. C. Holt (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: There is no popular study of Robin Hood which covers as much ground as Holt's. Anyone who takes the time to work through Clawson will find much more and newer material in Holt. Highly recommended as an overview of the early history of the Robin Hood legend.
  2. 00
    Rymes of Robyn Hood : an introduction to the English outlaw by R. B. Dobson (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: This is the the first major modern collection of Robin Hood lore and ballads. It is not as specialized as Clawson's work, but it is of much more general interest.
  3. 00
    Robin Hood and other outlaw tales by Stephen Knight (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: This is the most recent major compilation of works pertaining to Robin Hood. It is not as specialized as Clawson's work, but it is of much more general interest.

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Of all the early traditional tales of Robin Hood, none is more important than the "Gest of Robyn Hode," a 450 stanza poem telling of Robin's rescue of an indebted knight, his conflict with the Sheriff of Nottingham, his encounter with the king, and his death. The "Gest" is the single most important source of the Robin Hood legend (many later tales are derived from it), and most Robin Hood scholarship derives from it. That which does not, frankly, isn't worth having.

And yet, few books really try to examine the "Gest" in itself. They study Robin Hood, using the "Gest" as part of the study. The result is often to gloss over the peculiarities of this poem.

Clawson is one of the major exceptions. This book is all about the "Gest." In particular, it is a study of the various components which were assembled to make up the "Gest."

Sadly, it is an example of the "riotous criticism" which was all too common in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The "Gest" unquestionably combined several sources -- but Clawson thinks he has found dozens. He breaks it up into more pieces than a smashed piece of pottery.

What that means is that this book is a source of suggestions -- but always of suggestions that need to be sifted. Are you a Robin Hood scholar? You need it. Are you someone who just wants to study the legends of Robin Hood? Spend your money on Dobson & Taylor's Rymes of Robyn Hood or Knight & Ohlgren's Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales instead.

Official Disclaimer: The author (Robert B. Waltz) has himself published a book on the Gest of Robyn Hode. But it, too, is a specialist volume and does not affect the above recommendations. ( )
  waltzmn | Aug 4, 2012 |
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(Preface:) This study of the Gest of Robin Hood is one division of an unpublished dissertation on the Robin Hood Ballads, presented by the writer in April, 1907, to the faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University in fulfilment [sic.] of one of the requirements for the degree of Doctor in Philosophy.
Among those Robin Hood ballads which are derived from genuine popular tradition, the Gest of Robin Hood undoubtedly holds first place in interest and importance.
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