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The Singer of Tales

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  99 ratings  ·  7 reviews
This 40th anniversary edition of Albert Lord's classic work includes a CD containing the original audio recording of all the passages of heroic songs quoted in the book; a video publication of the kinescopic filming of the most valued of the singers; and selected photographs taken during Milman Parry's collecting trips in the Balkans.
Paperback, Second Edition, 307 pages
Published May 19th 2000 by Harvard University Press (first published 1965)
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Albert Lord's work is a good follow-up to Milman Parry's work on oral traditions (The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry), but unfortunately Lord falls short of his mentor's insights and skills. The book is divided into two portions: Part 1, the theory, and Part 2, the application. I really enjoyed Part 1, and Lord's writing is very accessible and easy to read (which wasn't necessarily a good thing. Parry's work on the same subject required a lot more close, careful re ...more
The book presents the theory 1 and Practice 2I have already written a review on this fascinating book which cannot fail to leave readers without response. It is the book about how orality works, lives and transforms itself.It is not just literature but cultural anthropology. This is the first edition that came out in the sixties, the second one being in 2000 with a CD which recorded the living voice of the singer of Tales, Lord's and Parry's singer of tales, Avdo Medjedovic who was their Homer. ...more
Extremely enjoyable if out-of-date. Any scholar of oral poetry will find this book enlightening in view of the modern discussions as many of them stem from or argue against this type of approach. Lord's system of formulas (phrases of set length with interchangeable parts to allow for varied sense) is fascinating, particularly when broadened to theme and construction of tales, but what has developed from 1960s has been, in my opinion, able to fill in many of the holes or details of Lord's theory. ...more
a little dense (especially if you haven't any folkloric or classical background at all - sometimes i felt mine thoroughly insufficient). but an excellent read with solid writing.

and, further proving my theory that everything can be useful if you look at it from the right angle, i found the descriptions of oral epic composition to be *extremely* useful in terms of thinking about how to teach yoga. weird, but true.
David M.
Does a good job providing a comprehensive background to the idea that oral poems have a textual structure, but, as some reviewers have pointed out, the book is some-what out of date (a copy of the Iliad will eliminate the need to read Lord's sections on Homer). Still, an interesting reed that will shed a new light on classics like Beowulf and the Song of Roland, and points one in the direction of the ninth or tenth century Byzantine poem "Digenes Akritas , the Two Blood Border Guard".
This is an interesting account of Lord and Parry's discovery that the Iliad and Odyssey were oral compositions, which is one of the greatest achievements of humanities scholarship in the past century, and laid the foundation for the media studies of Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong. However, Lord sometimes gets bogged down in boring technical details.
Thom Dunn
Essential for the student of early lit., Beowulf, Homer,Bible, OE poetry, etc.
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