English, Department of


Date of this Version



1929 Author(s)


PMLA, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Jun., 1929), pp. 622-630


PROFESSOR GORDON HALL GEROULD'S article entitled "The Making of Ballads"' is an attractive essay, written in the fluent and polished manner that we are accustomed to expect from this scholar. It has charm of style, and its positions, taken as a whole, may be termed accepted positions. Because of its literary quality, because it brings together in one paper what has hithert been stressed in scattered places, and because of its appreciation of the poetical quality of those English and Scottish ballads sough out by the notable collectors of the earlier nineteenth century and made available in the volumes of Professor Child, the paper has real value for the student. That "The Making of Ballads" is research article, the product of painstaking investigation, Professor Gerould would not, I think, himself maintain. He is a literary theorist in the realm of traditional song, rather than an experienced field worker or a practical folk-lorist. He bring forward little that has novelty for the special scholar. This circumstance would call for no particular comment except for the fact that the paper has been announced as new and subversive- as something independent of old theories. It has been referred to by several scholars as "The Gerould Theory of Ballad Origins." The author himself leads us to expect something revolutionary when he asks us to-

dismiss from our minds, for the time being, our preconceived and w buttressed theories as to the narrative lyrics we call ballads; forget, we can, our arguments; and .... look at certain .... indisputable phenomena of the ballad. Oddly enough, though they are perfectly w known, they have been much neglected. Very rarely has their exist been noticed in writings on the ballads, while never, I believe, has t true significance been fully recognized.