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Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape

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But the Devil is a frequent, if not constant, presence. He's the one who tells me to hurry, that I could save time by pulling my sweatshirt off as I'm running up the stairs, and I hear him chortle as I rearrange my nose. He says things like Have another drink and Nobody's watching and Do it! Do it! Do it! That's the Devil as stinker, but the Devil rides a spectrum. The Rolling Stones knew he popped up at big events, always getting Man to do his dirty work. After all, it was you and me. Even now, you can't see him sitting behind Putin, but he's there. There's also the Faustian Devil, when Man signs away his soul. That's as dark as life gets. This is a damnably good book, thanks largely to Harte's wit and erudition and ability to take folk tales at more than face value, and tease out inferences that would be opaque in a less insightful writer's hands."

Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape

If a man could make other men do his bidding, if he had the power to make them sit, or stand, or go as he wished, and could tell who was going to live, and who was going to die, then that man was in a fair way to being the little devil of his neighbourhood. The Devil knew all about power – that was why he was always dressing as a gentleman – but he did not give it away readily, not without a fight. (p. 123-4) Although [Harte] will retell a tale with a nimble and gleeful charm, he’ll then carefully examine them. Harte's skill as a writer makes this process seamless. It also renders what could be an academic and slightly dry exercise every bit as interesting as the narratives themselves. Come for the telling of folktales; stay for the workings of folklore. Cloven Country is testament to Harte's deep personal and learned knowledge of the folklore of England. He’s seemingly read everything and been everywhere – and given the book is illustrated from his collection, clearly also bought the postcard. His writing style is wry and frequently aphoristic. Harte is one of Britain's most eminent folklorists, whose previous works have included detailed accounts of gypsy folklore, holy wells and an award-winning book on fairy traditions. As Cloven Country is coming from a more recognised publisher, hopefully his work will now reach a wider audience. Purely on the basis of this erudite, witty and exceptionally entertaining book, it clearly deserves to. ' Usual UK delivery timescale (excluding custom prints) is between 5 and 7 working days from the date of dispatch. Please allow up to 14 working days for delivery. For custom print delivery pricing and timescales see below.As literacy advances so the Devil tale advances. Places get re-named for him to advance a story rather than to reflect local 'reality'. We have mentioned tourists creating the tales they wanted to hear simply by being present in the right place at the right time (and then reporting them as 'true').

Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape - Getty Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape - Getty

The gentry may (or may be not) be beasts and monsters for all their finery, but their effective satirisation as easily bamboozled pompous hypocrites with little comprehension of the realities of daily life can be a potent weapon when deployed at the correct opportunity. Consider the way US television personality Bill Cosby had his sexual crimes brought to public awareness by comedian and actor Hannibal Burress talking about it during a show which subsequently went viral, or the way satirical publications have strongly fought against the tactics of silencing via lawsuit if one wishes for further modern examples.Thematically he moves us from tales of a stupid and outwitted Devil which are just recastings of much older giant or fairy lore through increasing fear and anxiety to culminate in the sinister Hounds of Hell motif which appears to be drawn from German romanticism. Before beginning this I had considered any Devil-related features on the landscapes that I know well. He makes a case that the mobility of these stories accompanies the beginning of the rise of tourism – people from further away would come to visit areas with certain landscape phenomena, and often the semi universal figure of the Devil seems to have served as a kind of flattening lingua franca. Local understanding of giant or faerie becomes smoothed out to Old Horny. This flattening also meant that various landscape phenomena might have similar story-variants applied to them – that the legends migrate one step at a time but, are borrowed or even stolen, with elements in the story that perhaps do not entirely fit their new locale.

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