Essays on American Humor: Blair Through the Ages

Overview

Walter Blair was the literary scholar who almost single-handedly gave the study of American humor significance in the academic world.  By categorizing the writings of American literary humorists into such diverse styles as the Old Southwest, Local Color, and Literary Comedian humor — each having serious social import—Blair abolished the notion that they were all practicing the same kind of intellectual irreverence.  Moving through more than six decades of Walter Blair's works, Essays on American Humor: ...

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Overview

Walter Blair was the literary scholar who almost single-handedly gave the study of American humor significance in the academic world.  By categorizing the writings of American literary humorists into such diverse styles as the Old Southwest, Local Color, and Literary Comedian humor — each having serious social import—Blair abolished the notion that they were all practicing the same kind of intellectual irreverence.  Moving through more than six decades of Walter Blair's works, Essays on American Humor: Blair through the Ages provides a comprehensive introduction to the discipline he developed. 
    Hamlin Hill has selected and ordered this collection to show the scope of Blair's expertise, which encompasses the careers of tall-tale characters like Baron Munchausen as well as the achievements of such real-life humorists as E. B. White.  The pieces range in time from Blair’s introduction to the 1928 edition of Julia A. Moore's poetry to his 1989 introduction to a work commemorating Davy Crockett's two-hundredth anniversary.  Historical and biographical essays, source-and-influence studies, and analyses of texts constitute the bulk of the book.  An entire section is devoted to discourses on Mark Twain, Blair's major subject.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Twenty essays by scholar of American humor Blair (1900-92) originally published between 1928 and 1989. He discusses writers, such as poet Julia A. Moore, E. B. White, and Mark Twain; subjects such as Mike Fink, Davey Crockett, and the American version of Baron Munchausen; and topics such as wartime and southwestern humor. The collection ends with a short story in which he demonstrates his ideas. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299136246
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/1993
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Introduction 3
Pt. 1 The Big Picture
Traditions in Southern Humor 15
The Popularity of Nineteenth-Century American Humorists 25
"A Man's Voice, Speaking": A Continuum in American Humor 40
Pt. 2 Essays on American Humor
A German Connection: Raspe's Baron Munchausen 57
Introduction to Davy Crockett at Two Hundred: New Perspectives on the Man and the Myth 72
Mike Fink in Legend and Story 77
The Technique of "The Big Bear of Arkansas" 90
Harris' Best: "Bill Ainsworth's Quarter Race" 99
Introduction to The Sweet Singer of Michigan: The Collected Poems of Julia A. Moore 104
Laughter in Wartime America 114
E. B. White: Introduction to One Man's Meat 123
The Funny Fondled Fairytale Frog 134
Pt. 3 Essays on Mark Twain
Mark Twain, New York Correspondent 143
On the Structure of Tom Sawyer 154
Mark Twain's Other Masterpiece: "Jim Baker's Blue-Jay Yarn" 165
The French Revolution and Huckleberry Finn 179
When Was Huckleberry Finn Written? 197
Was Huckleberry Finn Written? 215
Mark Twain's High and Delicate Art: Introduction to Selected Shorter Writings of Mark Twain 221
Mark Twain and the Mind's Ear 237
Pt. 4 Practice What You Teach: A Short Story
The Ugliest Man in the World 249
Suggestions for Additional Reading 255
Notes 257
Index 291
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