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The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Paperback – November 12, 2015
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“[Pyle’s work] struck me dumb with admiration.”—Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to his brother --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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8 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The medieval setting is portrayed beautifully, including the vast gulf between the upper and lower classes of society, the corruption and greed of the nobility, and the hypocrisy of the medieval Roman Catholic church where religion has degenerated to mere outward rituals. Even the language is somewhat antiquated, which initially seems tedious, but persevere because you will soon find that this an enjoyable and essential addition that heightens the heroic atmosphere of the story. But the medieval setting is not presented without a social commentary - Pyle shows that the unbalanced social structure inevitably resulted in the oppression of the poor and weak. It is left to Robin Hood and his men to take justice into their own hands, and fight nobly for the cause of the downtrodden. Such justice is accomplished in a questionable manner, because the notion of robbing the rich to help the poor implicitly endorses civil disobedience. But the more important theme of seeking justice and maintaining truth and right is in itself a noble one. With Robin Hood, we find ourselves wanting justice, and being prepared to make unselfish sacrifices in order to achieve it. When justice is done, it is actually the greed and corruption of the nobility that has led to its own destruction and ruin.
But the real attraction of this gem are the enthralling exploits of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Howard Pyle presents Sherwood Forest as a rather glamorous utopian world where feasting and song abound, where it is never winter, and where the ale rarely runs dry. Robin Hood clearly represents a form of hedonism, and in his company there is never a lack of action, adventure, or for that matter - ale. But it's not the beer that attracts us to Robin Hood, it's rather his bravado. There is no end to the accomplishments of muscles and mind, as he and his merry band outwit all comers by sheer physical skill in archery, wrestling, swordmanship, and quarter-staff combat, or by outsmarting them with deceit and disguise. To our delight, Robin's brawn and brains always come out on top at the end.
Howard Pyle's collection of Robin Hood's merry adventures is a classic that is constantly entertaining and exciting - one that you'll want to own and read over and over!
Howard Pyle was the first person in the modern era to collect all the Robin Hood ballads that had come down from the midieval era and put them into a modern format, structured as stories and so forth. Essentially every version of Robin Hood in the past century has drawn on Howard Pyle's Robin Hood as its major source, and reading this book is the best way to understand why the minor characters in (for example) Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" are named things like "Will Scarlet" or "Much the Miller's Son."
I was given this book to read as a child, and it was and still is one of my all-time favorites (although I always avoided reading the final chapter, which Pyle even warns his readers they may want to do). The elevated, pseudo-elizabethan style even helped me later on -- when I got to Shakespeare in school, the language was easy for me, because I'd been reading Howard Pyle since I was eight.
The problem with this ebook version is that it doesn't contain the illustrations, though. And that's simply unforgivable. Howard Pyle is today better known as an illustrator than as a writer. He was the art teacher who taught people like Arthur Rackham and N.C. Wyeth. His illustrations are immensely rich and detailed, and as full of period accuracy and background research as his writing was. It's an unforgivable shame to miss them.
Versions of this book can be found online free with illustrations. Don't bother with this version, as it doesn't have them. Reading this book without the illustrations is like taking an oscar-winning film and just listening to the sound with the screen blacked out. You can do it, but why?
EDIT: There are now many Kindle versions of this book, all cross-linked so they share reviews. Currently at least, none of the free versions have illustrations; the 99-cent version marked "illustrated" does appear to have most of them, but severely cropped, without many of Pyle's marginalia and scrollwork.
It's amazing how contemporary Robin Hood is. The merry men are just a bunch of slackers (Robin included) who just want to drink ale and give somebody a good beating. It's the best non-violent violent book that you can find LOL...