Best version of the Child Ballads?
September 14, 2012 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get a copy of the Child Ballads, but there is a frustratingly large selection and very few reviews of any of them. Any suggestions on the best version?

Ideally I'd like a complete collection with footnotes, etc. The prices seem to vary greatly, so I assume the quality of the editions also varies.
posted by HSWilson to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Do you need/want a hard copy? Project Gutenberg provides them free, with footnotes and, presumably, etc.
posted by ubiquity at 9:47 AM on September 14, 2012

I always forget about Project Gutenberg, thanks. Unfortunately, like Amazon's Kindle versions, they have 6 out of 8 (unless that's wrong on their end, the volumes I've seen always had 5).

However, I would like a hard copy also. I've gone digital for most books, but there are some types that I still like to randomly open to a page and jump around.
posted by HSWilson at 10:01 AM on September 14, 2012

I think this is one of those things where you want to see some different editions and buy a really beautiful one that you enjoy handling (and obviously that works for you in terms of size of book, annotation style, etc).

The only point to paying money for a book in the public domain is for it to be a really nice physical object.

Can you go to a big bookstore with a great selection and compare a few? Or if you don't have access to that, maybe shop via AbeBooks, Powell's or another site that is more about different editions and not like "here is a book called X"? It might be worth using Amazon to find what editions exist and then searching for the ones that interest you on another site.
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 AM on September 14, 2012

The Dover paperback is horrendous, don't get that. The Loomis Press edition is supposed to be good, and has critical apparatus.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2012

How about asking the English Folk Dance and Song Society?

You could also ask for opinions in the Mudcat forums.
posted by spectrevsrector at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2012

Although here's a less enthusiastic review of the Loomis House edition than what I've heard.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:32 PM on September 14, 2012

There really aren't a lot of editions. Dover 1965 is a facsimile of the Houghton Mifflin five-volume reissue of the original 10-volume set. Dover 2003 is a reprint of Dover 1965.

The new Loomis House edition is reset and the footnotes added as an appendix after Child's death are inserted to the ballads to which they refer.

The "Cambridge Edition" is a one-volume edition created by Child's daughter and Child's successor as a Harvard professor, also from Houghton Mifflin in 1904. There were a few Houghton Mifflin reprints and a reprint from Gordon Press in the 1970s.

I have a "Cambridge Edition" because I don't need to give that much shelf space to the Child ballads.

If you're working with these seriously, it's also pretty important to have Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, IMO.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:50 PM on September 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Dover 2003 is very cheaply produced and bound, IMO. If you do decide on Dover, chances are that copies of the 1965 edition will be in better shape for longer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2012

If you're working with these seriously, it's also pretty important to have Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, IMO.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:52 PM on September 14

I was actually looking at the Bronson books before I posted the question.

I found a decent price on a Cambridge edition (supposed to be the 1904, probably a reprint, though), and I think I'll get the Bronson books to supplement/enhance the collection.
posted by HSWilson at 3:14 PM on September 14, 2012

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