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Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay
A classic picture of the rural past in a remote Suffolk village, revealed in the conversations of old people who recall harvest customs, home crafts, poetic usages in dialect, old farm tools, smugglers' tales, and rural customs and beliefs going back to the time of Chaucer.
Published May 29th 1975 by Faber & Faber
(first published January 1st 1965)
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One of the great books on rural life - notable for the quiet precision of its description of tasks, tools, and most of all social organizations. These include the "companies" formed by farm workers which negotiated with farmers to do the harvest in a given period, producing complex term sheets in which all eventualities were accomodated but a dignity of stature pervaded. As soon as the contract was signed, the status of landlord and laborer (for none of these were vis a vis one another quietly ...more
Affectionate fireside social history - just up the road from Ronald Blythe's Akenfield, though more 'oral tradition' and historic perhaps - emphasis on the C19th. I love the chapters on smuggling. Dialect is always endearing too (some hip artisan in the 21st century should be selling a Suffolk cheese called 'bang'). Bell ringing deserves its own TV series (I'm pretty sure Akenfield dwelled on that a lot too). The biggest surprise for me is perhaps the sheer rigour of things like the harvests - ...more
Spotted this one on Bettie's list and thought I'd like it. I was right. Enjoyed the descriptions of rural life in England and learned a lot. Shepherds, smugglers, poachers - how they made beer, bread, how they drained fields, fertilized them - all the stories from the locale. Just the kind of book I like, highlighting all the skills and practices now lost to us.
Absolutely charming repository of peasant practice and lore from a Suffolk village, collected from the oldest inhabitants just after World War II and summarizing a few especially juicy older narratives. Helps explain why Suffolk is the way it is (insular, peninsular, villagey), and could be very useful to have around for reference as our standards of living regress to the Stone Age. Could be assigned in an appropriate technology course alongside a study of traditional farming in, say, India or ...more
Another good folklore from Mr. Evans. One of his earlier books and more about farming habits than just plain folklore. Still not too bad, even though I am not too interested in farming habits of the 1800's, but still, the folklife that was centered around it is very interesting. Interesting tidbits on smuggling too.
George Ewart Evans was born and raised in the mining community of Abercynon, Glamorganshire, Wales. He wrote a series of books examining the disappearing customs and portraying the way of life as it had been in rural Suffolk. "Ask the Fellows who Cut the Hay" is probably his best known book. The publication of his books gave him deserved recognition as a pioneering oral historian. He was also an ...moreMore about George Ewart Evans...