The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878 Message #4031276
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
31-Jan-20 - 02:50 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
I don't think Harker regarded Motherwell as perfectly scholarly, but I thought it worth noting that at least in this case Harker appears willing to give some credit where it is due. Harker asserts that Motherwell came up against/discovered the extent to which print and oral cultures were intermingled.
I think there was something in Hustvedt about the possibility of translations from Latin, so that is twice it cropped up recently. Latin as a medium for the spread of yarns seems obvious given that it was a lingua franca.
I think I might disagree with you about the politics of collectors. I say this with my Eng Lit head on. (But I suppose I should ask 'irrelevant to what?' For example, when we read a novel by Hogg (you will know who I mean) his connection with Scott and his political project and affiliations was just one way we tried to make sense of it. Motherwell was another pro union Scott. This particular bunch of Scotsmen was described as 'anti enlightenment' by a historian in our reading group, and Motherwell's objection to ordinary people getting learning and knowledge instead of the old more superstitious ways seemed part of this, though he was of a lower social class. Their 'romanticism' is part and parcel of their interest in old stuff, and it isn't just an objection to the ugliness of industrialisation as it came out partly through the more leftist views of the Romantics (as in Blake, early Wordsworth etc) but in the case of the right wing as opposition to enlightenment per so. This is how the argument goes, at any rate.
The problem it seems to me with Child Ballads is that it all gets circular: Child had his own ideas about what did and did not count, but little idea about what a 'ballad' actually was or where they came from. Then as Harker says, Child's collection became a sort of practical definition of 'ballad'. Which later US students of 'the ballad' used to make all sorts of wild guesses about the people who had produced such a body of literature. Needless to say they drew a picture of a very odd 'race'. And Harker jumps up and down getting cross about it. With some justification I sometimes feel.
Gerould, for example. I read some of him and Harker quotes some.