Mudcat Café message #3729456 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #3729456
Posted By: Phil Edwards
10-Aug-15 - 06:06 PM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Steve - thanks, I'll revise the review!

One of the things I found most frustrating about the book was that I really wanted to know more about the fakery - I'm fascinated by things like Child dismissing Tam Lin as a "grossly modern invention" or Chambers attributing Sir Patrick Spens to Elizabeth Wardlaw. On several occasions Harker indicates that some of such-and-such a collection was clearly faked-up and then leaves it there. The implicit question he's answering is "did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No. But that's not very informative. What I wanted to know is how much of those collections does represent products of oral culture (even if ultimately traceable to print sources); saying "Not all of them by any means" is a start, but it's only a start.

oggie - I've got the book here (balanced rather precariously on my knee as I type). It's got an odd structure: Introduction, 11 chapters, then a two-page Conclusion and a two-page Appendix devoted to Harker himself. As far as I can see the only reference to the SWP is in the Appendix - and he doesn't suggest at this point that other factions of the Left are wrong. Writing about himself in the third person, he says that in 1982 a series of work & political pressures "drove him to reading and writing so as to keep his head together." Then: "How far he succeeded in doing so, and whether the effort was worth it, will be best judged by his comrades in the Gorton Branch of the SWP and those in other socialist parties." That's the last sentence of the book.

You may have been remembering Chapter 11, which is rather unnecessarily rude about the Communist Party while talking about Bert Lloyd; I was going to say something about this in my review but thought I'd done enough complaining.