Monday, November 20, 2006


On the obits page today I learned (belatedly, obviously) of Albert B. Friedman, a scholar drawn to what his obituary calls "the proletarian bustle of ballads, sung narratives that were composed and transmitted orally by generations of unlettered bards." Friedman compiled the Viking Book of Folk Ballads (later reprinted as The Penguin Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World), the introduction to which included his observation: "Ballads are songs or performances, not poems. They are not literature, but illiterature." Says the obit:
Mr. Friedman’s work helped to animate the postwar “ballad revival” in the United States, the renewed interest in traditional English and Scottish ballads (and their Appalachian offspring) that reached its apex in the late-1950s and 1960s.