The Voice of the People

The Voice of the People

Writing the European Folk Revival, 1760–1914

Edited by Matthew Campbell & Michael Perraudin

Anthem European Studies

Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

Anthem Studies in European Ideas and Identities

‘The Voice of the People’ presents a series of essays on literary aspects of the pan-European folk revival from the late eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth.

Hardback, 232 Pages


March 2012

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

‘The Voice of the People’ presents a series of essays on literary aspects of the European folk revival through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its approach is both topical and generic, addressing not just the question of what purposes the folk revival served but also its many forms and genres. It focuses on two practices of antiquarianism, namely the key role that collecting and editing played in the formation of ethnological study in the European academy, and the business of publishing and editing that produced many 'folkloric' texts of dubious authenticity. Collecting and editing went hand-in-hand with plagiarism and forgery in the practice of many: much English, Scottish and Irish folk-song is of late-eighteenth century literary origin. Across Europe, too, national literary identities were often based on origins supposedly discovered in the people, but which were frequently the stuff of fiction. As was the case with Russian and Czech folklore, an interest in the folkloric was often successfully hybridised, with, for example, a continuing emphasis on classical patterns instructing the creation of vernacular art forms. In Germany, debate about the folk served the purposes of a radical writing in a time of successive political upheavals.

In addition to exploring these tendencies, 'The Voice of the People' also presents readings of various genres: epic, song, tale and novel. It contributes to the study of several crucial European literary figures, from Macpherson and Percy, Herder and Burns, to Heine, Pushkin, Moore and Morris. But most of all it concerns the great anonymous authors of the European folk tradition – in narrative and lyric art – and their relation to the cultural movements and imagined identities of the peoples of the emerging nineteenth-century European nation.

'The Voice of the People' offers an original take on folklore revivals through its attempt to integrate British examples of the literary and antiquarian uses of folk art with a strong account of comparable movements in Europe.


‘[A] fine collection of essays covering a large scope of time and geography. […] Not least among the virtues of this collection is that it makes one think and ask questions.’ —Arnd Bohn, ‘Monatshefte’ 

‘A masterly chronological line-up of scholarship from many lands, this book releases the European folk revival from its many confining nationalisms, making the folk/literary movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries individually and collectively legible for a new generation of scholars.’ —Professor Angela Bourke, MRIA, University College Dublin

‘An ambitious and timely publication, which will be of great interest to both historians and literary critics. The book’s wide-ranging case studies cumulatively reaffirm the central role of “folk” and “popular” culture in the making of modern European literary sensibilities.’ —Dr Philip Connell, University of Cambridge

‘This sparkling collection of essays reveals in intricate detail a cat’s cradle of regional, national, and international relations within the folklore revival. Marvellously ambitious and wide-ranging, it is sure to stimulate fresh research into the European contexts of folksong. It is impossible not to learn something from this rich and compelling work.’ —Professor Nick Groom, University of Exeter

‘From the Scottish Highlands of Ossian to the nymph-like vilas of First World War Bosnia, this collection reveals how interconnected the proponents of the European folk revival were. Each chapter, whether dealing with well-known figures like Robert Burns and Heinrich Heine, or more exotic fare such as Portuguese romanticism and the Estonian national epic, demonstrates the dynamic impact of demotic culture on literature and the arts in the long nineteenth century. Given the social and political significance of “The People” in an age of revolutions, this collection will be as useful to historians as it is to literary scholars.’ —Dr David Hopkin, University of Oxford

‘Interest in vernacular culture flourished all over Europe in the nineteenth century. Just how trans-national this interest was, despite its national(ist) application in the various European countries, is made clear by this assembly of case studies. Each essay in this collection, instructive in its own right, is enriched by the others, and by the comparative context. A landmark book in folklore studies and in intellectual history.’ —Professor J. T. Leerssen, University of Amsterdam

Author Information

Matthew Campbell is Professor of English at the University of York.

Michael Perraudin is Professor of German at the University of Sheffield.


Anthem European Studies

Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

Anthem Studies in European Ideas and Identities

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Introduction – Michael Perraudin and Matthew Campbell; 1. The Impact of Ossian: Johann Gottfried Herder’s Literary Legacy – Renata Schellenberg; 2. On Robert Burns: Enlightenment, Mythology and the Folkloric – Hamish Mathison; 3. The Classical Form of the Nation: The Convergence of Greek and Folk Forms in Czech and Russian Literature in the 1810s – David L. Cooper; 4. Literary Metamorphoses and the Reframing of Enchantment: The Scottish Song and Folktale Collections of R. H. Cromek, Allan Cunningham and Robert Chambers – Sarah M. Dunnigan; 5. Thomas Moore, Daniel Maclise and the New Mythology: The Origin of the Harp – Matthew Campbell; 6. The Oral Ballad and the Printed Poem in the Portuguese Romantic Movement: The Case of J. M. da Costa e Silva’s Isabel ou a Heroina de Aragom – J. J. Dias Marques; 7. Class, Nation and the German Folk Revival: Heinrich Heine, Georg Büchner and Georg Weerth – Michael Perraudin; 8. The Estonian National Epic, Kalevipoeg: Its Sources and Inception – Madis Arukask; 9. The Latvian Era of Folk Awakening: From Johann Gottfried Herder’s Volkslieder to the Voice of an Emergent Nation – Kristina Jaremko-Porter; 10. From Folklore to Folk Law: William Morris and the Popular Sources of Legal Authority – Marcus Waithe; 11. Pioneers, Friends, Rivals: Social Networks and the English Folk-Song Revival, 1889–1904 – E. David Gregory; 12. The Bosnian Vila: Folklore and Orientalism in the Fiction of Robert Michel – Riccardo Concetti; Epilogue The Persistence of Revival – Matthew Campbell and Michael Perraudin; Bibliography; Index


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