Ballads, Songs and Snatches demonstrates how allusion to folk song and some aspects of popular musical culture were absorbed into the polyphony of discourses in the realist prose of the nineteenth century, and explores the implications of the various transformations that occurred during this process, with an emphasis on the representation of the labouring classes. Wide and deep acquaintance with folk tradition is shown to account for richly dense literary textuaJity, especially in Scott and Hardy, even where they mediate their knowledge tactically. Lack of that knowledge is consonant with weakness in such representation. The sources used by each writer are identified as accurately as possible. The book is necessarily interdisciplinary, bringing together literary and folk song study and scholarship. It defines a new category for discourse analysis, the 'false intertext', i.e. supposed allusions to folk song or other texts actually composed by the prose writers themselves. It investigates the effects within the literary texts both of these false intertexts and of the inclusion of material so heavily mediated as substantially to misrepresent the original compositions. In the course of this discussion it outlines ways in which authors appealed to audiences often stratified along class and gender lines.
The chapter and article extend the concerns of the book, especially Chapter 6, with the discourse of popular songs of the early nineteenth-century song-and-supper rooms. Both continue to address questions of readership, both contemporary
and more recent. 'The Cheek of the Young Person: Sexualized Popular Discourse as Subtext in Dickens' overturns assumptions about the canonical respectability of Dickens's earlier work. "'With Mike Hunt I Have Travelled Over the Town": the Norms of "Deviance" in Sub-respectable Nineteenth-century Song' uses popular but critically outlawed material to problematize the position of the literary critic and to offer an alternative to Raymond Williams' model of ideological development.
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