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Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw [Paperback]

Stephen Knight


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Book Description

23 Oct 1994
Everybody has heard of Robin Hood, but very few know about the wealth of materials which record and develop the tradition that sustains the myth. In this book Stephen Knight details and analyses the entire phenomenon of the outlaw, his resistance to authority, and how successive ages have interpreted him. Most accounts of Robin Hood merely retell stories or speculate upon the original original bandit′s identity. But Knight′s new study, based on wide research and sophisticated literary and sociocultural research, is the first complete analytic account of this major mythic figure, the English outlaw hero who has symbolised many forms of resistance to authority around the world for over five hundred years.


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"By no means indifferent to the romantic lure of the myth of the outlaw, Stephen Knight here provides an analysis of Robin Hood that is at once sympathetic and critical, warmly humane and politically astute – and remarkably thorough. This excellent book will fascinate and instruct all who have responded to the enduring fantasy of noble lawlessness." Professor Douglas Gray, University of Oxford .
"What emerges very clearly is the extraordinary power and diversity of the material. Again and again the reader is encouraged to look at well–known works in a fresh and invigorating way or to explore unknown but fascinating areas. Knight is open–minded and generous. I find it all very persuasive." Professor Lee Patterson, Yale University. "Knight,s survey of the Robin Hood tradition (from brief 13th–century allusions to recent films featuring Kevin Costner and Mel Brooks) is meticulously thorough, and his attention to secondary sources is judicious." Publishers Weekly .
"Professor Knight′s generous–spirited and stimulating book deserves to reach an audience well beyond the universities." Times Literary Supplement .
"Knight′s study, which is supported by a useful time line, an extensive bibliography, and a thorough index, makes it a valuable addition to both graduate and undergraduate libraries."Choice.
"Professor Knight′s generous spirited and stimulating book deserves to reach an audience well beyond the universities... At the same time, it leaves scholars with much to reflect on."Andrew Wawn, TLS "A superb work on the subject... Stephen Knight′s Robin Hodd is truly `complete′ and must be the last word on a folk hero who represents even today, our very best qualities – love and honour and fairness.". Harry Sayen, The Times.

From the Back Cover

Everybody has heard of Robin Hood, but very few know about the wealth of materials which record and develop the tradition that sustains the myth. In this book Stephen Knight details and analyses the entire phenomenon of the outlaw, his resistance to authority, and how successive ages have interpreted him.
Knight shows how in the late middle ages Robin Hood was seen simply as an opponent of centralised law, while the Elizabethans gentrified him to support the aristocracy and to oppose a corrupt Catholic church, and then at the Restoration he came to personify treason against an anointed king. To Walter Scott, Robin was a Saxon freedom fighter, but for Keats he was a vision of an imaginatively freer time. Tennyson and the Georgian poets found in their hero a symbolic escape from oppressive modernity, while Hollywood, at its most vigorous, made Robin Hood a doubtful figure of democracy. More recently he has focused forms as disparate as Disney comedy and the historical novel, as well as television versions ranging from the radical–mystical to feminist farce.
Most accounts of Robin Hood merely retell stories or speculate upon the original bandit′s identity. But Knight′s new study, based on wide research and sophisticated literary and sociocultural research, is the first complete analytic account of this major mythic figure, the English outlaw hero who has symbolized many forms of resistance to authority around the world for over 500 years.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview... 18 Feb 2005
By Alex P. Kimball - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This text is foundational to the study of Robin Hood. An overview and analysis of the most important, and sometimes obscure, texts in the tradition, it moves from ballad to play to broadside to musical to novel to film with practiced ease. Professor Knight's comments are insightful and solidly backed. Not a dry book, it is full of energy for the subject and a wry wit. Want to know about Robin Hood? Start with Stephen Knight.
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