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The Lore And Language Of Schoolchildren (NYRB Classics) Paperback – 1 Apr 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; New Ed edition (1 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940322692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940322691
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"The Opies, professors of literature and essentially folklorists, did something path-breaking: they observed children and took their play seriously..."The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren "reminds us that children are their own beings who create and navigate complicated social worlds, and the way they do so is worthy of respect and understanding." --Hilary Levey Friedman, "Brain, Child "Magazine

About the Author

Iona (born 1923) and Peter Opie (1918-1982) began their research together in 1944. Fifteen years later, they published The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren and took their places as, to quote The Guardian, "the supreme archivists of the folklore movement." Since that time, they have jointly published The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, The Classic Fairy Tales, and Children's Game in Street and Playground. Since Peter Opie's death in 1982, Iona Opie has carried on with their work under his name as well as her own.

Marina Warner is a writer of fiction, criticism, and history. Her award-winning studies of mythology and fairy tales include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, From the Beast to the Blonde, and No Go the Bogeyman. In 2006 she published Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media, a study of ghosts, phantasms, and technology. Her most recent work of fiction is the novel The Leto Bundle. A Fellow of the British Academy, she is also Professor of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE scraps of lore which children learn from each other are at once more real, more immediately serviceable, and more vastly entertaining to them than anything which they learn from grown-ups. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book brings back all the memories of childhood and school playgrounds. Remember the one about Adam and Eve and Nip-me-Well or any other version, well they are all in there. The Opie's went around the UK in the 1950's collecting rhymes, games, riddles - all the little bits of speech that we as adults forget. As well as being an anthology, the authors provide an insight to the history of these games as well as some discussion as to the ways the children use them - obviously rhymes can be used to tease as well as please. Readers of today should also be aware that this book was written in the 1950's and as such contains both out of date material, and perhaps somewhat controversial jokes. Overall, however, this book is a gem.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Finished in 1959, this study preserves the culture of the playground, handed down from older child to younger child with no adult interference for hundreds of years, before the lowest common denominator of television eroded its separate, hidden distinctiveness. No doubt much has survived till the present day, but only those fresh from the playground will know; adults lose this suddenly-obsolete body of folklore, social behaviour and superstition very rapidly when they hit adolescence.

Fossilised in the closed world of children, medieval superstition, eighteenth century political satire and music hall ribaldry blend seemlessly into a new cadre of rhyme and nonsense featuring the stars of film and radio, the skits of wartime humour and the politics of the day, all garbled through the half-comprehending medium of the child's eye view. It is a fascinating, sprawling body of material.

The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, along with other work by the Opies, set the standard for a new type of inward-looking anthroplogy. It is no surprise, therefore, that it is a turgid read at times. The authors are concerned that their apparently trivial subject should be accepted with the seriousness which it undoubtedly merited. Any sparkle in the book comes from the loopy daftness of the rhymes and the pure gold of the unedited child voice. I do not know that the book could have been produced differently at the time, but it isn't something you could sit down and read from cover to cover for pleasure unless you were unusually sober in your tastes. For most readers, better to dip in and out.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Biddlecombe VINE VOICE on 9 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have fond memories of reading this book as a middle-class Home Counties teenager and feeling jealous of the fun had by working class kids with some of the japes described here. Back in the 1950s most kids had no television and formed their own culture. Iona and Peter Opie recorded it using thorough methods but produced a very entertaining book, with little gems on every page and much of the information direct from the children, with occasional wisely scholarly notes from the Opies - a mocking rhyme about a chemistry teacher is "a direct transmogrification of traditional lines spoken of old by the yuletide mummers". Here are some samples from random page openings:

The sausage is a cunning bird
With feathers long and wavy;
It swims about the frying pan
And makes its nest in gravy
Boy, 12, Newcastle upon Tyne (in Nonsense Rhymes in the Just for fun chapter)

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
Mr. Chamberlain said to me,
If you want to get your gas-mask free,
Join the blinking A.R.P.
(in the Topical Rhymes chapter relating to events of 1938, but "fourteen years later this verse was re-collected from girls in Aberdeen [...] [who] had not been born when the Munich pact was signed".

'When you play "Ring the bell,Susie" you tie a piece of string to one woman's bell and the other end to another woman's door handle and then you ring the woman's bell that has the piece of string on the handle and then you hide. When she opens the door it rings the womans bell and when she opens her door she shuts the other woman's door then she opens her door it rings the womans bell then she opens her door it shuts the other womans door and it goes on like that for a long time.' (description by a 12-year old in the Pranks chaper)
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Format: Paperback
My late mother, a deputy headmistress at a primary scool read about this book in Child Education in the early 1960's and asked me to order it from our local library. She found it a wonderful book and when I readd the title decided to buy a copy for myself. She died several years ago.
When IU read parts of it i realised why she liked it so much; it is truly a marvelous book and well worth buying.
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By Nozzy on 25 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The history and origins of the rhymes/sayings are really interesting and so are the regional differences. Husband and I are from different parts of this country and have compared what we used in those 'long ago' school days. A fascinating book, but not one you could read from cover to cover! As another reviewer says, probably best to dip in and out.
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