The Singer Resumes the Tale

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[In this on-line version, the page-numbers of the printed version are indicated within braces (“{” and “}”). For example, “{69|70}” indicates where p. 69 of the printed version ends and p. 70 begins. These indications will be useful to readers who need to look up references made elsewhere to the printed version of this book.]

Gregory Nagy

The Singer Resumes the Tale, by Albert B. Lord, is a book in progress. The author died on July 29, 1991, before he could put the finishing touches on what he had intended as a sequel to his 1960 masterpiece, The Singer of Tales. The loss was incalculably painful, but a remedy appeared. His cherished wife and partner, Mary Louise Lord, undertook the difficult task of collecting and meticulously editing the various drafts the author had composed to achieve the book that he had intended. Thanks to her heroic accomplishment, the current work of Albert Lord emerges in all its clarity of vision. I say “current” because he had meant this book to be a statement of work in progress. Throughout The Singer Resumes the Tale Lord again and again reveals his openness to finding new ways of looking at oral traditions. Most striking is his sustained vision of literature as a concept that encompasses oral as well as written traditions. Whether he agrees or disagrees with various scholars, senior and junior alike, in their various approaches to the complex problem of establishing the relationships of oral and written traditions, he does so with a strong sense that continuing debate about this problem will lead to an ever deeper understanding of literature itself. The debate proceeds each time the reader reopens this book, each time the singer resumes the tale. {ix|x}