The Tall Tale in American Folklore and Literature

Overview

To Carolyn Brown s mind, the tall tale is not necessarily an account of the adventures of a larger-than-life hero, nor is it just a humorous first-person narrative exaggerated to outlandish proportions. It is as well an interaction between teller and audience a game played at the hazy border between the credible and the incredible, a challenge and an entertainment at the same time. The tall tale is also a social statement that identifies and binds a folk group by flaunting the peculiar knowledge and experiences ...
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Overview

To Carolyn Brown s mind, the tall tale is not necessarily an account of the adventures of a larger-than-life hero, nor is it just a humorous first-person narrative exaggerated to outlandish proportions. It is as well an interaction between teller and audience a game played at the hazy border between the credible and the incredible, a challenge and an entertainment at the same time. The tall tale is also a social statement that identifies and binds a folk group by flaunting the peculiar knowledge and experiences of group members, and it is a tool for coping with a stressful or even chaotic world, for conquering life s problems by laughing at them.

Drawing on previous research and her own original fieldwork, the author develops in detail this definition of the tall tale as a genre of folklore, and she then explores how tall tale methods and meanings have been translated into literary humor. She probes the ways that writers have used this genre to create a complex rhetorical relationship among text, author, narrator, and reader. The book moves from the Crockett Almanacs, sketches, newspaper hoaxes, and frontier frame tales to present entirely new readings of such standard nineteenth-century works as Augustus Baldwin Longstreet s Georgia Scenes, George Washington Harris s Sut Lovingood, and Mark Twain s Autobiography. Finally, Brown alludes to the echoes of tall tale attitudes and style still found in modern written humor.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870496271
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1989
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 188
  • Sales rank: 1,298,297
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Chapter 1. Inseparable Strands: The Intertwining of Oral and Printed Yarns 1
Chapter 2. Stretchers, Yarns, and Windies: A Genre of the Folk 9
The Problem of the Tall Tale 9
The Search for the Tall Tale 11
The Texts of Tall Tales 17
Contexts and Functions of Tall Tales 31
Chapter 3. Flush Times: Varieties of Written Tales 39
The Sketch 41
The Anecdote 54
The Hoax 58
The Frame Tale 63
Chapter 4. Sut Lovingood: A Nat'ral Born Durn'd Yarnspinner 74
Chapter 5. Mark Twain: Roughing it on a Tall Frontier 89
Chapter 6. Mark Twain: Remembering Anything, Whether it Happened or Not 108
Chapter 7. The Way the Natives Talk: A Note on Colloquial Style 122
Epilogue 128
Notes 139
Bibliography 153
Index 165
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