Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale by Henry B. Wonham

By Henry B. Wonham

Mark Twain and the paintings of the Tall Tale is a examine of a unusual American comedian process and its function in Mark Twain's fiction. targeting the writer's experiments with narrative constitution, Wonham describes how Twain manipulated traditional methods to analyzing and writing by means of attractive his viewers in a chain of rhetorical games--the principles of which he tailored from the conventions of tall story in American oral and written traditions. Wonham is going directly to convey how Twain's appropriation of the style constructed throughout the process his profession, from The Innocents Abroad to Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Pudd'nhead Wilson. This eminently readable examine will curiosity Twain fans and scholars of nineteenth-century American literature, in addition to someone attracted to American humor and oral narrative traditions.

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It is a brand of humor that employs the art of the tall tale in creating a comic contrast, but one that ignores the basic social impulse behind the oral yarn spinner's use of exaggeration as a narrative device. Another class of tales, most of them unframed epistles, includes tall accounts of the prosperity of miners in California. As in the stories about crude squatters, these tales usually employ wild exaggeration as a means of ridiculing the gold fever that was threatening eastern industry and agriculture with the lure of migration.

The The Emergence of Tall Narrative in American Writing 25 members of Bunkum's audience participate in the narrative event by adopting interpretive strategies that help to determine the significance of his performance. This transactive model of performance and response may bear figurative relevance for the kind of engagement that usually occurs between writers and readers, but the situation is in fact quite different when a reader encounters an author's verbal meaning. 19 Walter Slatoff explains that "one can explore works in seminars and discussion groups, one can attend to and make use of the experiences and observations of others, and gain new insights and ways of responding, but a reading .

A second explanation is that written tall humor was uncommon in 1781, and readers in Hartford were no more expecting to meet a yarn spinner between the covers of Peters's book than were their counterparts in London. A third explanation attributes the confusion to Peters's own narrative methods and to the authorial intentions that led him to the tall tale in the first place. In fact, except for the account of a floating crowbar and a few similar absurdities, the General History contains very little "information" that could have been intended to alert even knowledgeable readers that the book's title invites a genre mistake.

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