The Tall Tale in American Folklore and Literature

  • Author(s): Brown, Carolyn S.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1989-07-28
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $18.95 | Buy Now

Drawing on previous research and her own original fieldwork, the author develops a 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.

The work moves from the Crockett Almanacs, sketches, newspaper hoaxes, and frontier frame tales to present new readings of such standard works as George Washington Harris’ Sut Lovingood and Mark Twain’s Autobiography.
Brown views the tall tale as a challenge and an entertainment as well as a story that identifies and binds a folk group and helps people to cope with a stressful world.

“By approaching her subject with, in her own words, ‘a sense of humor, proportion, and humility,’ Brown has produced the best book we have on the subject. It is sensible, informative, and clearly written and it belongs in all libraries for undergraduates or above with any concentration in American culture.”

“This work is a significant contribution to American literary scholarship, particularly to the study of American humor. It is large in scope, its procedure is orderly, clear, and knowledgeable, and its conclusions illuminating.”
–Milton Rickels.