A novelist, poet, literary critic and anthropologist, Andrew Lang is best known for his publications on folklore, mythology and religion; many have grown up with the ‘colour’ Fairy Books which he compiled between 1889 and 1910. This three volume set presents a selection of his work in these areas. The first volume covers the general and theoretical aspects of Lang’s work on folklore, mythology and anthropology along with the tools and concepts which he used in his often combative contributions to these inter-related disciplines. As a companion to the first volume, the second is comprised of various case studies made by Lang, ranging from ‘The Aryan Races of Peru’ and ‘The Folk-lore of France’ to ‘Irish Fairies’ and ‘The Ballads, Scottish and English’. The third volume arranges his literary criticism, first by geo-cultural context and then chronologically. It begins with Lang’s views on the nature and purpose of fiction, then presents samples of his work on some of the most important authors in the respective canons of French, American, Scottish and English literature including Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Burns and Charles Dickens among many others, mainly of the nineteenth century.
Collectively, the General Introduction to the set and the Introductions to the individual volumes offer a thorough overview of Lang’s work in an astonishing variety of fields, including his translation work on Homer and his contributions to historiography (particularly Scottish). The Introduction to Volume III sets Lang within the context of the literature of his times, comparing and contrasting him with significant contemporaries. Headnotes to the individual items are of varying length and provide more detail on specific topics, and explanatory notes supply unique intellectual comment rather than merely factual information.