The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140761   Message #3236211
Posted By: MGM·Lion
09-Oct-11 - 11:06 AM
Thread Name: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
Ah, now ~ yes, The Bitter Withy. As far as I know, Peter Bellamy himself invented the line where the three young lords say "Thou art nothing but a Jew's child": interestingly absurd historical irony, to be sure. But has anyone else come across that particular variant on what is usually, in all othe versions I know, rendered either as "poor man's child", or [as in DT] "maid's child"? And, if I am right, why did my dear friend Peter choose to sing it that way? To add an extra frisson? Or just being a bit perverse as he sometimes delighted in being [see various threads, including the present 'PB 18/20 years dead' one]?

Hugh Of Lincoln is also, of course, a variant of the folktale told on the pilgrimage to Canterbury by the Prioress in Chaucer's The Cantebury Tales; another of the great classics of our literature. As someone remarked above: how are we to look at The Merchant of Venice [which has anyhow Shylock's own cogent anti-antisemitic arguments ~ "Hath not a Jew eyes?..." !!never try to oversimplify the works of Will!!] ~ which in any event pales into insignificance compared to Marlowe's near-contemporary The Jew Of Malta, in which Barabbas is not really a Jew at all so much as just a conventionalised satanic figure. How about Dickens' Oliver Twist, of which he became so ashamed in later life that he invented the super-virtuous Jew Mr Riah in Our Mutual Friend, who unhappily has none of the vitality of Fagin but is a boring old fart? Or Trollope's Melmoth in The Way We Live Now?

'No simple answers', is, I suppose, the non-answer I am somewhat inchoately striving towards...