What Do I Read Next?
The definitive collection of Scottish ballads, of which Burns is considered the master, is Francis James Childs’s collection the English and Scottish Popular Ballads. It was originally published by Houghton Mifflin in ten volumes between 1882 and 1898. In 1965 Dover Publications issued a condensed five-volume reprint.
In 1971 Greenwood Press reprinted the famous multi-volume Scottish Poetry of the Eighteenth Century, first published in 1896. The editor, George Eyre-Todd, has assembled the best writings of Burns and his contemporaries, many of whom are not familiar to modern audiences.
Thomas Carlyle was a famous Scottish historian from the generation after Burns (he was born in 1795: Burns died in 1796). Carlyle’s booklength essay on Burns might seem a bit too complex for some modern readers, but, remembering the time it came from, it is a helpful piece for putting the poet in historical perspective. The essay was printed as An Essay on Burns in 1910 by Charles E. Merrill Co., and has appeared in several different formats since.
A handy reference, written for contemporary students, that puts Burns’s ballads in historical perspective is The Penguin Book of Ballads, edited by Geoffrey Grigson and published in 1975.
The University of Iowa Press published a collection of essays in 1997 called Robert Burns and Cultural Authority, consisting of eleven essays by literary critics about the poet and his relation to social issues, such as “Burns and God” and “Burns and Sex.”
In the 1760’s Scottish poet James MacPherson published several volumes that claimed to be translations of ancient stories about a legendary Scottish folk hero, Ossian....
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