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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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“I wa’ n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’ by trash!”

“I wa’ n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’ by trash!”

Mark Twain’s “A True Story” and the Culmination of Southern Frontier Humor

(p.131) “I wa’ n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’ by trash!”
Southern Frontier Humor

Tracy Wuster

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the argument that Mark Twain represents the apogee of the antebellum southern frontier humor genre by analyzing “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It” (1874), one of his works to use African American dialect. It suggests that “A True Story” was a transitional piece between antebellum southern frontier humor and postbellum local color fiction, and that it challenges the limitations inherent in writings featuring former slave narrators while addressing questions of race and gender in ways that more closely associated Twain with northern traditions that linked artistic work with moral aims. It argues that the “powerful dramatization of the sorrow of slavery” in “A True Story” created a considerable gap between the cultural work of Twain’s humor and that of the Old Southwest.

Keywords:   southern frontier humor, Mark Twain, local color fiction, race, gender, slavery, Old Southwest

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