Brer Rabbit, Uncle Remus

Brer Rabbit, Uncle Remus

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by Walter M. Brasch
     
 
Joel Chandler Harris was widely praised by his contemporaries for his writing and insights into black American folklore and language. His works were translated into more than thirty languages, and he was second only to Mark Twain in popularity with the American public. This book explores Harris's four-decade newspaper and literary career which remained a key part of

Overview

Joel Chandler Harris was widely praised by his contemporaries for his writing and insights into black American folklore and language. His works were translated into more than thirty languages, and he was second only to Mark Twain in popularity with the American public. This book explores Harris's four-decade newspaper and literary career which remained a key part of his life and character even after he achieved critical and financial success in literature.

Harris is not widely known today. Like Brer Rabbit getting stuck in the tar baby, by the 1950s Uncle Remus stories were politicized and often stuck with racist labels, partly because of the depiction of Uncle Remus in Disney's 1946 movie Song of the South and partly because of the movie's extensive use of American Black English.

Brasch defends the accuracy of Harris's literary depiction of both American Black English and Reconstruction Georgia. Brasch also examines the nature of fame and places a variety of other social and political issues in the context of this major American writer.

Author Biography:
Walter M. Brasch is an award-winning newspaper reporter and syndicated columnist who now serves as Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at Bloomsburg University. He is the author of ten previous books, including With Just Cause: The Unionization of the American Journalist and Forerunners of Revolution: Muckrakers and the American Social Conscience.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Brasch wrote this book in large part because his journalism students have never heard of Uncle Remus. It is biography, but it is also an analysis of black speech and dialect, a discussion of folklore, observations on race, and a survey of the cultural influences of Joel Chandler Harris's 'Brer' animals. The book's charm stems from Brasch's writing style, the sketches of the animals on nearly every page, the 70 photographs, the reproductions of contracts and newspapers, the varied typography, and the reprint of Harris's 'The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story, taken from one of the earliest editions. Describing Harris as 'loved at home, praised at work,' the author introduces the writer as an introverted, basically uncomplicated man who, as a columnist, turned to writing the stories he had heard as a boy growing up with African Americans. The structure for the stories was influenced by Chaucer and Boccaccio. Were they powerful allegories of human life or racist tales? Brasch follows the debates from 1879 right up to People magazine, presenting a gentle balance of the views. Though sometimes rather simplistic, this volume extends the work of Hugh Keenan and R. Bruce Bickley. Recommended for journalism students and southern literature collections.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865546967
Publisher:
Mercer University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2000
Series:
Journalist Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
444
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)

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BRER RABBIT, UNCLE REMUS 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really didn't know much about this man, but I had read a couple of newspaper reviews, so decided to buy the book. This is one of the most enlightening and enjoyable books I have read in quite some time. It looks not just at the life of what was one of America's most famous and respected authors in the late 19th century, but also issues about America, including its racial policies. I especially liked reading about why Harris was branded a racist, which he wasn't, and why we have 'forgotten' his name, while remembering the lessons of Brer Rabbit. I also learned that the stories Mr. Harris told were almost entirely based upon African folklore, and we can better understand Afro-American heritage by understanding the allegories of the folktales. I can't recommend this book enough.