The Border Ballads, for instance, and the Robin Hood Ballads, clearly suppose a state of society which is nothing but a very circumscribed and not very important heroic age.

John le Carre


The Quote in Other Words

The Border Ballads and Robin Hood Ballads imply a society that is limited in scope and significance, resembling a heroic era.


Explanation of the Quote

This quote suggests that certain ballads, such as the Border Ballads and Robin Hood Ballads, depict a society that is limited in its scope and significance. These ballads portray a heroic age that is confined to a specific time and place, rather than representing a universal or timeless truth about human nature.

One possible interpretation of this quote is that it highlights the importance of context in understanding literature. The Border Ballads and Robin Hood Ballads may have been meaningful and relevant to the people who created and consumed them, but they may not have the same resonance for modern readers. By acknowledging the limitations of these ballads, we can better appreciate their historical and cultural significance.

Another way to interpret this quote is to see it as a critique of the romanticization of the past. The idea of a heroic age may be appealing, but it can also be misleading. By focusing on a narrow and idealized version of the past, we risk overlooking the complexities and contradictions of real historical societies. Instead of glorifying a bygone era, we should strive to understand the full range of human experiences and perspectives.