Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden...

I finished reading aloud Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden. It was a suggested literature read for Ruben's IEW Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons. I initially thought about substituting The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, which is the suggested Beautiful Feet Intermediate Medieval History book and the version of Robin Hood Riley read. I want to say, I'm so glad I didn't, but without reading Green's book, that would be unfair. However, I will say, I am very pleased with McSpadden's work.

Robin Hood is a wonderful story. For those of you who don't know, Robin Hood is a hero to the poor in English folklore. He and his loyal circle of 'merry men' fight for the oppressed against the Sheriff of Nottingham and the king. Robin Hood lives in Sherwood Forest. He and his band dress in 'Lincoln green' and it is said, Robin takes from the rich and gives to the poor. There is speculation that Robin Hood may have been a real man. However, exact details are unknown and most certainly have been dramatized over the years.

One of the first known accounts of Robin Hood is in William Langland's Piers Plowman in 1377. The brief mention may indicate the tale was popular in the oral tradition. Although, it wasn't until 1883, when Howard Pyle published The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood as a children's version that Robin Hood became popular in literature. There have since been many renditions of Robin Hood. I really did love the edition, pictured above, written by J. (Joseph) Walker McSpadden. The rich language and alliteration are lovely and the inclusion of excerpts from other famous retellings such as Andrew Lang's Robin Hood and the Butcher were wonderful.  The Dover reprint pictured above was created as a replication of text originally published by World Publishing Company, New York, in 1923. The original McSpadden retelling was authored in 1891. You can read it online here or listen to the audio here.

The reading of McSpadden's Robin Hood was highly anticipated in our home each evening before bed. Steve and I loved it as much as the children. Ruben was disappointed when it ended. I can anticipate re-reading it in the future or at a minimum, reading other early versions of the work such as Pyle's, which we are blessed to have on the shelf. Whether you are studying the Middle Ages or not, I believe Robin Hood is a must read tale, simply for the discussion of character and virtue. Is it ever right to take something that's not yours if you are well meaning to give it to someone in need? I'll let you read and decide...

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