Albert B. Lord

Easton Press Albert B. Lord books

Russian Folk Tales - Library of Famous Editions  - 1996

Albert B. Lord biography

Albert Bates Lord was an esteemed American scholar of Slavic and Balkan literature and folklore. Born on September 15, 1912, in Boston, Massachusetts, Lord demonstrated a keen interest in language and literature from a young age. He pursued his undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where he was introduced to the rich oral traditions of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. After completing his bachelor's degree, Lord continued his studies at Harvard, earning a master's degree in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1939, both in Comparative Literature. It was during this time that Lord became acquainted with the work of Milman Parry, a pioneering scholar who had developed a revolutionary theory regarding the composition of Homeric epic poetry through oral tradition.

Inspired by Parry's groundbreaking research, Lord embarked on his own studies of oral poetry and folklore in the Balkans. In 1937, he traveled to Yugoslavia to conduct fieldwork, collecting and analyzing epic songs and ballads from oral tradition. This experience laid the foundation for his seminal work, The Singer of Tales, published in 1960. In The Singer of Tales, Lord expanded upon Parry's theories, arguing that the Homeric epics were composed and transmitted orally by generations of singers rather than being the work of a single author. He demonstrated how oral poets used formulaic language and conventional themes to create and recite lengthy narratives from memory, preserving and transmitting cultural heritage across generations.

Lord's work had a profound impact on the field of comparative literature and folklore studies, revolutionizing our understanding of oral tradition and the composition of epic poetry. His methodology and insights continue to inform scholarly research in disciplines ranging from literature to anthropology. In addition to his academic pursuits, Lord served as a professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Harvard University for over three decades, mentoring numerous students and scholars who were inspired by his groundbreaking research.

Albert Bates Lord's contributions to the study of oral tradition and epic poetry earned him widespread recognition and acclaim. He received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1982. Lord's legacy endures as a testament to the enduring power of oral literature and the importance of interdisciplinary scholarship in understanding the complexities of human culture and creativity. His work continues to inspire generations of scholars and remains foundational to the study of folklore and comparative literature worldwide. Albert B. Lord passed away on July 29, 1991, leaving behind a rich intellectual legacy that continues to shape our understanding of the human experience.

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