The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19291   Message #196060
Posted By: GeorgeH
16-Mar-00 - 09:59 AM
Thread Name: Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould et al
Subject: RE: Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould et al
Stewie, I take your point.

But no, I don't need to read Wilgus before commenting adversely on that section of him which you quoted. I merely remarked on him with the same "sensitivity" he shows towards the Victorian collectors; his remark "they" [the traditional material] "suffer every possible indignity . . " shows a failure to understand the nature and ownership of "the tradition" every bit as profound as that of the victorians, and less excusable simply because we do now have a fuller understanding of the tradition.

This is not to deny that Wilgus may offer both worth and interest to me. But can you please tell me why "it is to scholarhip's greater benefit that the original materials were preserved". Scholarship certainly carries its own benefits, which are independent of the material being studied. I do see benefits in the original material having been preserved (the credit for which goes to the Victorians, not their detractors), but certainly not for its benefit to modern-day scholarship.

Sure, there is a place for "Critical folk song scholarship" - that's a description which can be applied to what is (in my opinion) the best of the Mudcat. Such scholarship serves to heighten others' understanding, awareness and appreciation of "Folk". As it happens, most (but not all) "academic" folk song song "Scholarship" I've seen stikes me as essentially bogus navel-gazing. Wilgus may be an exception, but your quote from him augers ill. Just what "facts" does he express? His views are heavily overlaid with his own judgemental sneering, and it's with seeming reluctance that he conceeds that BG provides "the fullest notes of any of these collectors". The extract you give us isn't good scholarship, it's more on the level of propagandist popular journalism.

As for putting people on pedestals - well, yes, I'd like to do that to all who promote our wonderful traditions; even Wilgus can have his (rather lower than the victorians, though) . . that's not to place any of them beyond FAIR AND REASONED criticism ("no gods, and precious few heros" is my belief). Your extract from Wilgus must stand or fall in its own right; to my mind it shows a profound lack of understanding and falls.