The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #89022   Message #1679445
Posted By: GUEST,Jon Boden
26-Feb-06 - 12:52 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Golden Glove (Dog and Gun)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Golden Glove (Dog and Gun)
Interesting stuff. Thanks for all the references Malcolm.

…I'd tend to place more trust in analysis that starts from the cultural context in which the songs were actually found. See, for a good example of that approach, Roger de V Renwick, English Folk Poetry (London: Batsford, 1980) chapter 1, 'The Bold Fisherman: Symbolism in English Traditional Folksong'. Renwick's take on the song is very different from Lucy Broadwood's, and, for me at least, far more convincing for concentrating on contextual evidence and involving no leaps of imagination….

I've had a quick skim (must get round to reading this book properly) and I agree that his analysis is a) interesting and b) based on solid analysis of C19th sexual repression. However he doesn't actually dismiss Broadwood's analysis and is quite open to the idea that the song my have had ancient origins, but had been adapted to the cultural concerns/interests of its hosts.

I'd have to admit to finding Broadwood's Bold Fisherman allegorical analysis pretty far-fetched, but this shouldn't undermine the broader principle at stake. A C19th church may have fragments of an Anglo-Saxon church in its fabric. That doesn't stop it being essentially a C19th church - it's quite likely that most people who have used that church since its construction were unaware of its pre-history. But one wouldn't dismiss an archaeologist interested in finding Anglo-Saxon remnants as a wishy-washy fantasist. Equally it might be of considerable interest to passers by to have the Anglo-Saxon remnants pointed out to them.

…I don't know whether or not The Golden Glove has ever been found as a folktale, or whether it may derive in part from one. It's perfectly possible; the broadside writers drew on any source that came to hand for their material. I wish that Dixon had said more about that alleged "Elizabethan incident". For what it's worth, there do seem to be a few variants on the Cinderella group of stories in which the lost shoe is replaced by a golden glove. Evidently John Clare knew one: …

This is really fascinating Malcolm – thank you for pointing it out. It occurs to me that the story of the Golden Glove is structurally very similar to Cinderella, only with the heroine actively placing the glass slipper in Prince Charming's hand. I'm not too hot on folk-tales. What would be the earliest written source for something like Cinderella?

…On the subject of female cross-dressing in folksong (and, for that matter, in all sorts of literature) you'd find Dianne Dugaw's Warrior Women and Popular Balladry 1650 - 1850 (Cambridge University Press, 1989; since re-printed) very interesting if you haven't already read it…

I haven't but look forward to having a look. Thankyou.

…The context she details for the whole thing, though she doesn't deal with such songs as The Golden Glove or Sovay, is so extensive that I'm sure you'll see why I don't think that we need to go back to earlier "Lord of Misrule" customs in order to understand the appeal of this song: and, in some degree, the sociological resonances that it may have evoked or exploited…

I'm sure you're right that we don't 'need' to – but surely the two areas of understanding are not mutually exclusive? One doesn't 'need' to read Holinshead to appreciate Shakespeare's Macbeth, but it doesn't hurt! It just seems a bit reductivist to almost go out of one's way to avoid a longer term historical / anthropological interpretation of folk-song. Yes the early folk-song scholars may have got a bit tied up in romanticism, but that doesn't mean that they were total loons and that the whole notion of thematic antiquity is worthless.

People are of course entitled to be interested/disinterested in whatever they please, but it just feels like the academic wing of the folk scene is fighting a 30 year-old battle which was basically won 20 years ago, and by doing so is perhaps marginalizing folk-song study from the mainstream of literary criticism. At least in England any way (look forward to reading Toelken though.)

Best Wishes,