Poetic Origins and the Ballad

Poetic Origins and the Ballad

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Poetic Origins and the Ballad

Poetic Origins and the Ballad

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Excerpt

The leading theses of the present volume are that the following assumptions which have long dominated our thought upon the subject of poetic origins and the ballads should be given up, or at least should be seriously qualified; namely, belief in the "communal" authorship and ownership of primitive poetry; disbelief in the primitive artist; reference to the ballad as the earliest and most universal poetic form; belief in the origin of narrative songs in the dance, especially definition of the English and Scottish traditional ballad type as of dance origin; belief in the emergence of traditional ballads from the illiterate, that is, belief in the communal creation rather than recreation of ballads; belief in the special powers of folk-improvisation; and belief that the making of traditional ballads is a "closed account." The papers making it up are reprinted, with a few modifications and considerable additional material, from the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, from Modern Philology, from The Mid-West Quarterly, and from Modern Language Notes. A few are printed for the first time, and the chapter on Balladry in America is indebted to a chapter on Oral Literature in America published in The Cambridge History of American Literature. Thanks are due to the publishers for permission to utilize passages from the latter. The polemical tone of the papers, which is so marked as to need explanation, is to be accounted for by . . .

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