The Singer of Tales

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Introduction to the Second Edition

by Stephen Mitchell and Gregory Nagy

This new edition of The Singer of Tales marks the fortieth anniversary of the original publication of Albert B. Lord’s book (1960). The words of Lord, as well as the original pagination, have been preserved unchanged. Important new features, however, have been added.

The first of these features involves the principal evidence that Lord had at his disposal, the audio recordings of South Slavic heroic songs made by his teacher, Milman Parry, in 1933–1935, and his own audio recordings, made in 1950–1951. This recorded treasury is housed in the Milman Parry Collection in Widener Library (Room C) at Harvard University. The editors of {vi|vii} The Singer of Tales 2000, who are also the Curators of the Milman Parry Collection, are publishing all the recorded passages of heroic song—as well as the conversations—quoted at length by Lord in the ten chapters of his original 1960 book (pp. 17, 18, 26–27, 39–42, 46, 55, 58–63, 69–70, 72–77, 82–83, 109–110, 126, 286–288). This “audio publication” is featured in the compact disk (CD) that accompanies this new edition of The Singer of Tales. [1]

Second, the CD contains a unique video publication of what is referred to in Parry’s fieldnotes (PN 12470) as a “kino” that, on August 10, 1935, recorded part of a song performance by the guslar (singer) Avdo Međedović, whom Parry and Lord valued as the most accomplished of all the South Slavic singers they encountered. [2]