What better to invoke an English midsummer than the Robin Hood legend?
Sara Kendell once read somewhere that the tale of the world is like a tree. The tale, she understood, did not so much mean the niggling occurrences of daily life. Rather it encompassed the grand stories that caused some change in the world and were remembered in ensuing years as, if not histories, at least folktales and myths. By such reasoning, Winston Churchill could take his place in British folklore alongside the legendary Robin Hood; Merlin Ambrosius had as much validity as Martin Luther. The scope of their influence might differ, but they were all a part of the same tale. — Charles de Lint’s Moonheart
Robin Hood appears many, many times in the archives as I discovered while looking recently for some unpublished Arthur Rackham illustrations of him I knew were supposed to be somewhere here. And it won’t surprise you that we’ve reviewed a lot of Robin Hood related material!
But first, a story of a darker Robin Hood who told tales in our Pub one night…
Films such as Robin and Marian and the Robin of Sherwoord series offer respectively a touching romantic account of the last years of the famous outlaw and his life-long love, and a dark and frankly mythopoeic retelling of the tale that owes a lot to the rise of the neo-pagan movement in the Sixties. Though I would be remiss not to mention the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood film which is cheesy and fun in a way the previous tellings are not!
Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography is, as reviewer noted, ‘an extended look at what Robin Hood has become in various guises, ranging from a nationalist rallying point (in 1555, the Scottish parliament banned all annual celebrations involving Robin, Little John, the Abbot of Unreason, or the Queen of the May, as plotters against the Scottish Crown were using them as the basis of a populist uprising) to his transformation by Disney into a cartoon fox in the 1973 Robin Hood feature, not to mention Daffy Duck playing him in a 1958 cartoon.’
Two other works, Robin Hood and Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw, stray into territory that is tenuous as best, including trying to determine the very first person who was Robin Hood, something that’s impossible when history becomes legend and that in turn becomes myth.
I’ve save the best for last in A Fancyfull Historie of That Most Notable & Fameous Outlaw Robyn Hood which, as reviewer notes, ‘doesn’t wait until you’re done gasping for breath from saying the title to let you know what you’re in store for: a good old-fashioned romp through the life and times of “that most notable & fameous outlaw” Robin Hood.’ Oh, and it’s told in really lovely Elizabethan language!
Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood is, according to our reviewer, flawed but still worth reading.
I think that’s enough for this time. I need to visit the Archives to see what we’ve done for Robin Hood fiction. Look for that post soon. Now it’s time for a Robin Hood Ale in the Pub…
Cross-posted from Sleeping Hedgehog.