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Simple Forms
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Simple Forms: Essays on Medieval English Popular Literature

Douglas Gray


This is a study of the oral background to medieval English literature and of the ‘popular literature’ provided by the literate for the entertainment and instruction of the illiterate or the partly literate. It is organized around some of the ‘simple forms’ identified by folklorists (the best-known narrative examples are the folk tale and the legend or tale). The vast oral literature of the Middle Ages has vanished, leaving only traces, but much of the ‘popular literature’ has survived, and is of considerable interest. Sadly, it has been much neglected in recent academic work. The book also dis ... More

Keywords: oral literature, folk literature, popular literature, folk tale, legend, magic charm, prophecy

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780198706090
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198706090.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Douglas Gray, author
J. R. R. Tolkein Professor of English Literature and Language Emeritus, University of Oxford