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GEROULD, GORDON HALL. The Grateful Dead. The History of a Folk Story by Gordon Hall Gerould (London, 1908)

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GEROULD, GORDON HALL. The Grateful Dead. The History of a Folk Story by Gordon Hall Gerould (London, 1908)

250.00 350.00

London: Published for the Folk Lore Society by David Nutt, 1908. 

First Edition. Hardcover. Octavo. Publisher’s brown cloth with black border design and gilt Folk Lore Society monogram to front, gilt spine titles. Separate Folk Lore Society publication page (dated 1907) precedes regular title page. [x] + 177 pp.

Several pages of the book remain unopened along the top edge. Very mild edge wear to cloth. A near fine copy of this extremely scarce volume. 

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An early example of folklore scholarship, also a highly readable and fascinating collection chronicling the recurring legends of the Grateful Dead (yes, the rock band did get its name from this folk tale). In this classic study Gordon Hall Gerould explores a body of literature devoted to the ghosts of the departed, lost souls who showed gratitude to those who took care of their bodies and assisted in getting rid of demons. Typically, the grateful dead stories concern a young hero who takes on the responsibility of seeing that an unburied corpse receives a proper burial. A stranger who offers to accompany and assist him turns out to be the ghost or spirit of the dead man, repaying the hero for his good deed. Gerould surveys more than a hundred grateful dead stories, tracing their lineages, describing their common traits, and unraveling their variations. Through a close study of secular as well as religious stories, Gerould demonstrates the remarkable durability and adaptability of the grateful dead. With this book, Gerould established methods that laid the foundations for modern folklore scholarship.