Harris, Joel Chandler

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Harris, Joel Chandler,

1848–1908, American short-story writer and humorist, b. Eatonton, Ga., considered one of the great American regionalist writers. As an apprentice to the editor of the Countryman, a newspaper published on a Southern plantation, Harris gained firsthand knowledge of black slaves and their folklore. His stories and sketches of the South were originally published in the Atlanta Constitution, with which he was associated from 1876 to 1900. Harris's first collection, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1881), brought him immediate fame. Featuring as their narrator a lovable, shrewd former slave, the Uncle Remus stories drew upon African-American folklore and humor and were written in Southern black dialect. The demand for his stories and sketches was so great that Harris followed with nine more books in a similar vein, including The Tar Baby (1904) and Uncle Remus and Br'er Rabbit (1906). In other notable works, such as Mingo and Other Sketches in Black and White (1884) and Free Joe and Other Georgian Sketches (1887), Harris portrayed with accuracy and insight the aristocrats and poor whites of Georgia.

Bibliography

See his life and letters (ed. by J. C. Harris, 1918); biographies by P. M. Cousins (1968) and R. B. Bickley, Jr. (1987); study by R. B. Bickley, Jr. (1981).

Harris, Joel Chandler

(1848–1908) writer; born near Eatonville, Ga. As a boy he worked as a printer's assistant (1860–62) on a newspaper published by Joseph Addison Turner, who also encouraged Harris to read and write; Turner owned a plantation and Harris became acquainted with the African-American slaves and their speech, stories, and customs. He then became a journalist for newspapers in Macon and Savannah, Ga., and in New Orleans before settling in Atlanta to work for the Atlanta Constitution (1876–1900), which carried the first of his "Uncle Remus Stories," "The Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox" in 1879. Its popularity led to a long series of tales, published over the next quarter century in various collections, starting with Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880). The tales feature Uncle Remus, an African-American and former slave who tells the tales to the son of the family he now serves; many of the stories feature animals such as Brer (Brother) Rabbit and Brer Fox, and draw on the folklore of African-Americans as well as reproduce their speech, so that the tales are regarded as providing at least glimpses of authentic folklore. Harris also wrote other stories and novels about life in the South; his On the Wing of Occasions (1900) is a collection of stories featuring Billy Sanders, the Sage of Shady Dale, a character who expresses the views of average Georgians of the day.
References in periodicals archive ?
of Joel Chandler Harris (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918) 571.
Joel Chandler Harris, Tales of the Home Folks in Peace andWar
Dialect Differentiation in the Stories of Joel Chandler Harris.
Two Views of One Place: The Dialect of Putnam County, Georgia, in the Works of Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker.
Mixon, for one, notes that Harris "was poorly served" [469] by most of his illustrators, and a closer look at Alice Walker's critique of Harris reveals that Harris himself is never cited--the real targets of censure are Song of the South and the remarkably saccharine Julia Collier Harris, Harris's daughter-in-law, who edited the 1918 Life and Letters of Joel Chandler Harris.
The Atlanta Constitution of course gave these legal proceedings extensive coverage, and it's even possible Joel Chandler Harris may have written one or another of the generally positive reports and editorial comments on Amanda America Dickson's legal triumphs.
3) Among the interesting details, perhaps the most memorable is Page's first meeting with Joel Chandler Harris.
Two Allusions to Joel Chandler Harris in Ulysses," English Language Notes, 17 (1979), 42-45, and Jefferson Humphries, "Remus Redux or French Classicism on the Old Plantation: La Fontaine and Joel Chandler Hams," Southern Literature and Literary Theory, ed.
Like Sundquist (whose book apparently appeared after the completion of Werner's manuscript), Werner finds Charles Chesnutt to be a key figure in ur-formations of modernism, particularly in his complex literary use of masking strategies, which Werner rightly connects to devices in "Uncle Remus" tales that Joel Chandler Harris may not have fully understood.
In the 1880s and '90s, Joel Chandler Harris published collections of plantation stories rendered in local dialects that revealed a large repository of African-derived folk narratives that had been selected by the slaves for retelling to "young marster and mistis.
By the end of the nineteenth century such authenticating stories had become almost conventional, so often had the theme been embellished upon by the most successful writers of the time: Joel Chandler Harris, Lafcadio Hearn, Mark Twain, and George Washington Cable.
His chapter on Chesnutt convincingly demonstrates how The Conjure Woman responded to the call of fictions written by post-Civil-War white writers such as Joel Chandler Harris and Thomas Nelson Page, who appropriated black folk art, inverting its meanings to express the social values of white supremacy during the Reconstruction period.