William's Reviews > The Singer of Tales

The Singer of Tales by Albert Bates Lord
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Feb 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: oral-traditions
Read in March, 2009

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 reading, but Parry gave much greater insights -- a trade-off I was willing to make). In Part 2, I was disappointed. Lord's applications of the oral-formulaic theory were far too generalized for my taste. I felt his conclusions could be easily challenged, and he didn't provide the kind of highly detailed analysis that Parry gives to support his views. I was anticipating a lot of compelling, specific evidence that would demonstrate the differences between a text that originated from an oral tradition (usually via dictation) and a text that originated from a literary tradition, but Lord's analysis fell well short of my expectations. Overall, it's still a good introduction (which is why I think most literary programs exploring folklore and oral traditions use this as an entry-level text), but it has failings. I loved Part 1, but I was banging my head against the wall in Part 2.
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07/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lada (new)

Lada Yes I enjoyed it immensely, orality and literacy, multiform and myth traditional vs. individual


message 2: by Lada (new)

Lada Yes I enjoyed it immensely, orality and literacy, multiform and myth traditional vs. individual


message 3: by kuhns (new)

kuhns What was your favorite part


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