[This page is still in progress.]
As Richard M. Dorson notes in The British Folklorists: A History, “Lang could have made his reputation as a folklorist alone, but he made many other and larger reputations” (206). This page is devoted to Andrew Lang’s interest in folklore and overlapping topics: while Lang wrote studies that dealt exclusively with folklore, much of his other work had folkloric sides. For instance, Lang’s approach to the study of religion was in great part related to his study of folklore and myth, rather than theological (Lang did not often discuss his own religious opinions in print), so I include Lang’s writings on the science of religion on this page as well as in their own category. (Lang was the Gifford Lecturer on Natural Theology at the University of St Andrews from 1889–90.) Lang also frequently tried to get members of the Society for Psychical Research to consider literature and folklore and for folklorists to consider psychical research. Dorson quotes Lang’s 1895 article in Folk-Lore, “Protest of a Psycho-Folklorist”: “What I cannot understand is this: as long as a savage, mediaeval, or classical belief (as in Fire-Walking) rests only on tradition it interests the folklorist. As soon as contemporary evidence of honourable men avers that the belief reposes on a fact, Folklore drops the subject” (qtd. in 215). Lang does not maintain that the psychical phenomenon is true, but that, whatever its cause, “it is the origin of a picturesque piece of folklore” (qtd. in 215). Lang’s work on anthropology, fairy tales, history, and myths also overlap with his interest in folklore, so I include them here, but I also separate these and other areas on the Books page.
Lang’s books dealing with folklore and these related topics include the following:
- Custom and Myth (Longmans, Green, 1884), a series of essays including “The Method of Folklore.” [The first Internet Archive Scan is of the 1893 new edition. The new 1898 edition had a new Preface.
- Myth, Ritual, and Religion (1887)
- Modern Mythology, A Reply to Max Müller (1897)
- Cock Lane and Common-Sense (1894) [This book fits specifically under Psychical Research.]
- The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897)
- The Making of Religion (1898) [Based on his Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews (1889–90)
Prefaces and Introductions:
- Margaret Hunt’s edition of Grimm’s Household Tales.
- William Adlington’s translation of The Most Pleasant and Delectable Marriage of Cupid and Psyche (1887)
- Marion Rolfe Cox’s Cinderella
- Mrs. Langloh Parker’s Australian Legendary Tales (1896) and More Australian Legendary Tales (1898)
- Elphinstone Dayrell’s Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria (1910)
- Domenico Comparetti’s Traditional Poetry of the Finns (1899)
- Perrault’s Popular Tales (1888)
- The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies: A Study in Folk-Lore & Psychical Research. The Text by Robert Kirk, M. A., Minister of Aberfoyle, A.D. 1691. The Comment by Andrew Lang, M.A. A.D. 1893 (Nutt, 1893)
- Border Ballads (1888)
- A Collection of Ballads (1897)
- Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy (1910)
“Household Tales: Their Origin, Diffusion, and Relation to the Higher Myths” (cited in Dorson 209)
Interested scholars should certainly also investigate Lang’s periodical writings, particularly the early 1873 article in the Fortnightly Review, “Mythology and Fairy Tales,” that criticized Max Müller’s theories.
If you know of other Lang books and articles that should be mentioned on this page, please feel free to contact me about them.
Learn about Andrew Lang’s contributions to Folk-Lore (and its predecessors).