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Hore than a collection of stories
on 13 August 2000
Here is the Voice in the Shadow, as Alan Garner calls it, in all its glory. Most cultures in the Western world have lost the oral process whereby wisdom and teachings are handed down from teacher to pupil through the use of seemingly obtuse and nonsensical tales, which would have to be understood at all levels before the student could be taken to the next stage of teaching. As a method of education it was intensive, sly and invaluable. Being a teacher was, obviously, a great responsibility, and Alan Garner was lucky enough to grow at the knees of a number of people who fulfilled this role within his own community. He was unlucky enough to be the first of the 1944 Education Act generation, whose scholarship took him away from this source. So his books have all, in their own way, attempted to keep these stories alive for the nation, and maybe kick off the process of learning for a new generation. This book is the baldest attempt at retelling the tales he himself learnt as a child. Every nuance, every pause, every exclamation could have been uttered by one of these bucolic figures sitting at the Garner table. It's like stepping into another world.