This book is a treasure house of the oral tradition, made more so by Alan Bruford’s helpful and informative introduction which provides a guide to the editors’ scholarly approach in gathering, analysis and classification of their collection.
Scottish Traditional Tales is a collection made mostly from the School of Scottish Studies Archives, the majority from tape recordings that the School made from 1951 onward. It also includes manuscripts given to or written for the editors. The subject tales are gathered under categories ranging from Children’s Tales through Fortune, Hero, Trickster Tales, to catch-all variety groups such as Legends and Robbers Archers and Clan Feuds. Something here that anyone may recognise and enjoy reading are the variations in stock tales placed next to each other for comparison.
The sources of the tales range from Hebridean Gaelic tradition to Lowland caird recordings and throughout there can be heard the ‘authentic’ voice of the storyteller. It can be heard emerging from the typed page, made possible by the accurate transcription of the original recording. Stories in Gaelic, either in manuscript or where recorded, are translated but referenced so that they may be found in the original language. A tale in Scots is transcribed the same way to be enjoyed as it was spoken.
The voice of the storyteller in this collection savours the particular Scottish rendering of original tales as well as stories that are universal. A welcome reprint to be delved into and kept handy at the chairside.