Originally published in German in 1981, and first published in English as this Cambridge edition in 1990, Natascha Würzbach's study of the street ballad was the first to investigate a specific genre of popular literature which had previously been vastly neglected. Attention is focused on the social and cultural conditions which accompanied its development. The contemporary reputation of the street ballad is examined, as is the importance of the genre for the history of ideas. It is also looked at as a literary form. In the period from 1550 to 1650 the street ballad was a widespread and well-known type of ephemeral literature which met the literary needs of the middle and lower classes. It decisively influenced the subsequent development of the ballad as a medium of entertainment and instruction, and such diverse forms as the popular songs and political ballads of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Table of Contents
Preface; Introduction: survey of research to date and delineation of study area; 1. Literary and social conditions for the rise, distribution and textual structure of the street ballad; 2. Preliminary investigation of the interrelation between street-ballad text and socio-cultural environment: description of textual structure; 3. Procedures of the presenter and his relationship to his audience; 4. Sub-genres of the street ballad; 5. Pragmatic genre-definition of the street ballad and its cultural and historical position; 6. Reputation of the street ballad: views of contemporary writers; Notes; Bibliography.