The publication of Thomas Percy’s anthology Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) not only marked a new interest in the old medieval ballads themselves, but provided contemporary writers with dramatic literary motifs. Especially erotic ghost stories became fashionable. One of the most prominent ghost story writers was Matthew Gregory Lewis. In 1796 he published what was to become one of the most influential Gothic novels at the time, The Monk, containing several ballads of Lewis’ own creation. One of these, «Alonzo the Brave», became a classic. Almost immediately it was translated to Swedish and Danish. In Sweden, the ballad about the bold warrior Alonzo and his fiance Imogine became immensely popular as a broadside ballad (skilling ballad). Later it was translated to Norwegian, where the text was shortened and in some ways simplified. It seems that the ballad collector Sophus Bugge was the first to come across the ballad in Norwegian oral tradition. This was in the 1860s, but probably the translation was made quite a few years before that. Furthermore, in some cases the ballad story was transformed to a prose tale. Especially the prose tale told by Inger Marie Fallet from Sørum is of high quality, showing that there was no unsurmountable distinction between tales in verse and prose.
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Opphavsrett 2021 Olav Solberg