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Sut Lovingood's Natural Born Yarnspinner, Sut Lovingood's Natural Born Yarnspinner, 0817308210, 0-8173-0821-0, 978-0-8173-0821-6, 9780817308216,

Sut Lovingood's Natural Born Yarnspinner
Essays on George Washington Harris
Edited by James E. Caron, M. T. Inge

Trade Cloth
1996. 344 pp.
Price:  $49.95 s

Recognizes and reconfirms the status of Harris as one of the most important antebellum comic writers

Caron and Inge have compiled the first collection of critical commentary and new scholarship to be published on the east Tennessee, antebellum comic writer, George Washington Harris, who was famous for creating the character of Sut Lovingood. The collection both recognizes and reconfirms the status of Harris as one of the most important antebellum comic writers by bringing together new essays with essential biographical information and representative commentary from the past. Anyone wishing to understand Harris and his place within the tradition of American humor will want to read this book.

Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Harris (1814-1869) spent most of his life in Knoxville, Tennessee. He served as captain on a Tennessee River steamboat, tried his hand at large-scale farming, and operated a metal working and jewelry shop. While on the farm he began to experiment with a variety of literary forms, and by 1854 he introduced Sut Lovingood, a youthful and "nat'ral born durn'd fool" from Tennessee. Throughout the 1850s Harris created a variety of adventures for Sut, which were extremely popular and often reprinted. Many of these Sut stories were included in his only book collection, Sut Lovingood. Yarns Spun by a Nat'ral Born Durn'd Fool, which was first published in 1867 and remained continuously in print until 1925. In his masterful use of dialect, striking control of metaphor and imagery, and the creation of explosive action, Harris was to have no match until Mark Twain and William Faulkner, both of whom read Harris with great appreciation.

James E. Caron is Associate Professor of English at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

M. Thomas Inge is Robert Emory Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College.
“The editors present essays that increase our understanding of Harris, balance supporters with critics, and demonstrate how criticism itself matures once it moves past the basic (and correct) conflict between east and west toward an unpacking of the complex attitudes that inhabit Sut Lovingood’s tales. We see here a movement away from the simple dichotomy of democrat versus authority to sophisticated readings of how the challenges of the outsider (Sut) contribute to a conservative approach to social stability.”
—Michael J. Kiskis, Elmira College
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