I decided that since I’m taking a break after the first draft, I would settle in for some lite reading, so to speak. It’s actually very difficult reading, but there is always a method to my madness. My grandpa was a great story-teller. I have amazing memories of one story in particular. The story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. The story originally versed in the language of the slaves, lending to its authenticity, was first penned by Joel Chandler Harris in a collection of folk stories told to the slave children of the plantations, used as a means of teaching lessons, and passing on history, and religion. Most of you are probably familiar with Disney’s song of the south, or splash mountain ride at Disney theme parks.
There has been a lot of controversy through the years on its portrayal of slaves. Disney no longer sells the movie in the United States. Interestingly enough, Harris wrote in the language of the slaves as a means of preserving a small piece of culture he knew would someday be extinct. The songs and stories of Uncle Remus are a surviving record of the folk talks that very few may now remember. Regardless, I find it a classic piece of literature. When my grandpa told me the story, his version was a mixture of the slave language and everyday speech. I loved that. It gave him his own voce in the story. In my college years, I took a class, African-American Literature, and I grew to appreciate the stories all the more.
Long story short, I am adding Uncle Remus, His songs and Stories to my book list favorites. Not only does it encourage creative writing, but there is sentiment attached to it as well. The copy shown in the pictures is my own second edition published in 1890. It is a treasure in my collection. For those of you unfamiliar with this book should get familiar. Those of you that know it through the works of Disney owe it to yourself to find a copy, whether online or hard copy, and do some reading. If you want to make it more challenging, try reading it aloud. Here is a snippet from Joel Chandler Harris’s original writing. Give it a shot.
“Didn’t the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?” asked the little boy
the next evening.
“He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho’s you born–Brer Fox did. One day atter
Brer Rabbit fool ‘im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got ‘im
some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun w’at he
call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot ‘er in de big road,
en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwine ter be. En
he didn’t hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin’
down de road–lippity-clippity, clippity -lippity–dez ez sassy ez a
jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low.