Robin Hood: The Early Poems, 1465-1560 : Texts, Contexts, and Ideology

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University of Delaware Press, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 278 pages
While references to Robin Hood began to appear as early as the thirteenth century in legal records, the earliest surviving poems did not appear in manuscripts and early printed books until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Several fourteenth-century allusions in the works of William Langland and Geoffrey Chaucer suggest that the rymes of Robyn Hood were widely circulating by the 1370s, but, it is vital to note, none of these late fourteenth-century works survives. A better approach, Thomas H. Ohlgren argues, is to focus on what has actually survived rather than on what might have existed. As a result, the poems Robin Hood and the Monk and Robin Hood and the Potter, which survive in two different Cambridge manuscripts of the last third of the fifteenth century, and A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, which was printed at least seven times in the sixteenth century, must receive pride of place in the canon because they have a physical reality as material artifacts - in short, they exist and provide valuable information about the places and times of their composition and dissemination.

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Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It
Books on Robin Hood are published every year. Most of them are for the popular market. For those who really want to study the history of the Robin Hood legend
, there are only a few really vital books: F. J. Child's "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads," J. C. Holt's "Robin Hood," Dobson and Taylor's "Rymes of Robyn Hood." Now you can add this book to the list. There is no better source of information about the copies of the early Robin Hood romances -- the "Gest of Robyn Hode," "Robin Hood and the Monk," and "Robin Hood and the Potter." But be prepared to take the results with more than a grain of salt. There is a LOT of speculation in this book, and some of it ill-founded. Ohlgren, for instance, thinks he has identified the printer of two copies of the "Gest of Robyn Hode" based on the typefaces -- but the typographic information is not sufficient to support the conclusions. He suggests that the "Gest" is targeted to guilds -- but can provide no direct support for this assumption. I emphasize: Ohlgren's work is of great value. Scholars need this book. But there is still room on the shelf for a sequel or two. 


lewed peple loven tales olde Robin Hood and the Monk and the Manuscript Context of Cambridge University Library MS Ff 548
Pottys gret chepe Marketplace Ideology in Robin Hood and the Potter and the Manuscript Context of Cambridge University Library MS Ee435
From Script to Print Robin Hood and the Printers
The Marchaunt of Sherwood Mercantile Adventure in A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode
The Dialects and Language of Selected Robin Hood Poems
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2007)

Ohlgren is Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Purdue University.

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