Mudcat Café message #3935671 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3935671
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
06-Jul-18 - 07:00 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England

Thanks for the clarification on corpus, and for the points about methodology.


Tending to agree that we won't reach a consensus, but sad that other aspects of Roud's book aren't addressed. Because I think it's fascinating. But I am just a newbie on these threads and to this topic on anything other than a superficial level.


On Harker: I haven't read him first hand so I cannot comment much. He took a particular Marxist approach to the Victorian collectors. Roud doesn't appear to agree with his analysis (!). But at least anybody reading this thread and wanting to know who Harker was would be able to consult his Roud and find the answer. Roud likes to take what he calls a 'balanced' approach, though he fully acknowledges how middle class collectors have been. Roud, understandably, doesn't think there is anything wrong with being middle class.

On all that earliest printing proves is earliest printing. I think everybody agrees with that. I don't think anybody is denying that ordinary people can contribute songs to a tradition/genre already in existence. Thanks for explaining your reasons for preferring 'oral' origins. But maybe it would need to be argued on a case b case basis for the corpus in question.

On Child: On the basis of what has been said, it seems to me that in his collecton he included a number of dunghills. However, the full quotation appears to be to the effect that one can find jewels within the dung hill. I think I have found a source for this quotation in case anybody else is interested in seeing it in context.

Child 1872, in Hustvedt 1930: 254

I found this in a piece by E David Gregory. I think (happy to be corrected) that Roud describes him as American, but he is from Hitchin and went to Keele and Sussex Universities.

E David Gregory has described Child's later approach to broadside ballads as

" ambivalent, even schizophrenic. He heartily disliked them, yet he soon realized that he could not avoid them entirely. So he devised a rule of thumb in dealing with them. If he concluded on the basis of other evidence that a ballad was traditional, then he would print any broadside variants that he had come across. But in almost all other instances he rejected broadside texts out of hand"

          This is from a pdf online called jewels_left_in.

On Hogg, by coincidence we read one of his novels recently, and so looked at his life.

The quotation attributed to Margaret Hogg (nee Laidlaw) was actually written by James Hogg, who was a story-teller, and a professional one, long after the event. He is interesting because he tried to make a career out of being a 'peasant poet'. I am not sure that Hogg was a reliable narrator. I suspect that Margaret would have been literate as the Presbyterians held literacy in high esteem. I am not saying she did not also have an oral tradition, just that as usual things are complicated. She was married to a stock dealer and tenant sheep farmer who went bankrupt. Her son was first taught reading by a local churchman. They sent him to a small private school. Margaret clearly valued literacy. My understanding is that Hogg worked for Walter Scott collecting oral ballads, though his approach and Scott's to the material differed as Hogg felt more 'inside' the tradition, though he tried to make a living within literacy society as a 'peasant poet'. Incidentally I am sure that I came across a hint that Hogg himself wrote some of the songs he supplied to Scott; he did write songs and play music, having reputedly been inspired by the poetry of Burns!

If as "Margaret" claims writing ballads down led to their disappearance then logically we'd have none left. So this quotation does not seem to reflect a historical truth. "Margare"t is right that songs are for singing, and that aspects of performance cannot be captured in print. This is something mentioned by Roud, who comments that collectors often did not deal with this aspect. In fact some of them would not collect in pubs.

Just saying that things are complicated.

Personally I don't want any babies to be thrown anywhere.