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Robin Hood by J. C. Holt
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Robin Hood (1982)

by J. C. Holt

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384543,540 (4.18)6
People's hero or lawless marauder? Who was the 'real' Robin Hood - or was there none? And how did the legends of a violent era become the romantic tales of today?
  1. 00
    Rymes of Robyn Hood : an introduction to the English outlaw by R. B. Dobson (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: It would be a little strong to say that modern Robin Hood scholarship began with this book -- but only a little. Dobson and Taylor were the first editors since F. J. Child in the nineteenth century to really attempt a scholarly study of the Robin Hood corpus. Of course this first attempt has a few glitches. But most of it stands up very well.… (more)
  2. 00
    Robin Hood and other outlaw tales by Stephen Knight (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: For readers who want a single reference for the Robin Hood corpus, this is probably the best now available -- modern edited texts with glosses and introductions. There are some rather loudly stated assertions which are, at best, beyond proof, but the texts themselves are mostly excellent.… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
This is a serious scholarly book about Robin Hood , probably the most serious argument for a historical 13th century Robin Hood, with careful discussions of the early evidence such as it is, and the geography of the early Robin Hood poems, especially the Gest, which seems to be set in the Barnsdale region of southern Yorkshire, though mixed with (later?) references to the traditional Sherwood in Nottinghamshire. It also includes a well-known discussion of the audience of Robin Hood, subject on which there has been much debate. ( )
  antiquary | Nov 17, 2017 |
Someone has written a book about the legend of Robin Hood, possible sources and inspirstions, and some findings about social conditions that might have led to the creation of the Legend. Robin hood is not so dignified a story as Arthur, and it seems to be more recent. the corpus has certainly been not carefully cared for, and is prey to commercial interests. A good critical book on the legend. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 3, 2013 |
A scholarly, but eminently readble, study of the legend of Robin Hood. Based primarily around the earliest written ballads on the subject (and The Gest of Robin Hood is included in full), the author explores the geography, the links to possible factual history, and much more. This is not a telling of the legend, but an examination of how the legend developed over the years, merging in with other stories.

If you know anything about Robin Hood, even if only from Kevin Costner (!), then it will be an interesting read. If, like me, you have lived your entire life within 10 miles of Nottingham, then it is truly fascinating.

I read the Folio Society edition, which is a beautifully bound copy.

Thoroughly recommended. ( )
  RMMee | Oct 23, 2010 |
Book Description: NY: Thames and Hudson, 1982. First Edition. Fine in V Fine dj. Clean and tight. as new. printed & bound in Great Britain,
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  Czrbr | Jun 7, 2010 |
I first read this book when I was in high school. It interested me in the same way that books that speculated about the historical origins of King Arthur did. While most King Arthur-as-historical-figure books suffer from a dearth of facts and an overabundance of enthusiasm, this book for the most part does not share those traits.

Holt presents the historical evidence that someone named Robin (or Hobb or Hobbehod) once actually existed and served as the inspiration for a cycle of ballads. The evidence is scanty at best, and Holt does not ignore that fact. However, he does present an argument that the ballads are an account of not so much one man's deeds, as the deeds of a group of men who adopted and adapted the Robin Hood persona - a persona which was originated by a 13th-century criminal.

The book is deservedly considered a classic, not just for Holt's responsible approach, but for its readability. Note, however, that the second edition contains an essential update drawn from sources discovered after the first edition. You might want to read the preface and postscript before reading the rest of the book, as they contain the updated information. ( )
2 vote tom1066 | Dec 10, 2007 |
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Professor James Holt presents evidence of crucial importance in identifying the original Robin Hood, as well as showing how the exploits of other outlaws contributed to the legend and giving an entirely new interpretation of Robin Hood's most famous characteristic - that he robbed the rich in order to give to the poor.
"Highly recommended to all armchair swashbucklers."—Fresno Bee
The legend of Robin Hood began more than 600 years ago. The man, if he existed at all, lived even earlier. In this definitive work, Professor Sir James Holt, one of Britain’s premier historians and author of the standard work on the Magna Carta, unravels pure invention from real possibility and offers the results of some thirty years of research.

He assesses the evidence for the historical Robin Hood and finds that the tale originated with the yeomen and hangers-on of the households of noblemen and gentry in the later Middle Ages. Parts of the story that we now take for granted—Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Robin as robber of the rich and giver to the poor, even Sherwood Forest—played little or no part in the original tales, and were added as the centuries passed and the legends grew.

The legend of Robin Hood has enthralled people from the first ballads to contemporary movies. Holt reconstructs the historical basis of the stories but never loses sight of the human imagination that sustained them. This edition includes new illustrations and The Gest of Robyn Hood, one of the oldest surviving tales. 16 color and 9 black-and-white illustrations
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