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Southern Frontier HumorNew Approaches$
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Ed Piacentino

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617037689

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617037689.001.0001

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Henry Junius Nott and the Roots of Southern Frontier Humor

Henry Junius Nott and the Roots of Southern Frontier Humor

(p.18) Henry Junius Nott and the Roots of Southern Frontier Humor
Southern Frontier Humor

Ed Piacentino

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Henry Junius Nott’s little-known work, Novelettes of a Traveller; or, Odds and Ends from the Knapsack of Thomas Singularity (1834), with reference to the longest of the novelettes, “Biographical Sketch of Thomas Singularity.” It argues that the novelette, probably the best representation of what would become the humor of the Old Southwest, contains a rich lode of materials that frontier humorists such as Augustus Baldwin Longstreet would appropriate and similarly employ in some of their own sketches and tales to produce work embodying the southern frontier humor genre. In addition to character types (dandies, gamblers, rural roughs, con artists, and their would-be victims), Nott’s pioneering work features the frame device as well as subjects ranging from hunts to gambling, horse racing, pranks and deceptive practices, drunkenness, and courtship. “Biographical Sketch of Thomas Singularity” also makes use of popular thematic and plot appropriations, most notably a variation of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”—the most widely imitated script of southern frontier humor.

Keywords:   southern frontier humor, Henry Junius Nott, novelettes, Old Southwest, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, frame device, hunts, gambling, Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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