Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byHenry B. Wonham

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Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale is a study of a peculiar American comic strategy and its role in Mark Twain's fiction. Focusing on the writer's experiments with narrative structure, Wonham describes how Twain manipulated conventional approaches to reading and writing by engaging hisaudience in a series of rhetorical games--the rules of which he adapted from the conventions of tall tale in American oral and written traditions. Wonham goes on to show how Twain's appropriation of the genre developed through the course of his career, from The Innocents Abroad to Tom Sawyer, HuckFinn, and Pudd'nhead Wilson. This eminently readable study will interest Twain enthusiasts and students of nineteenth-century American literature, as well as anyone interested in American humor and oral narrative traditions.

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Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale explores a predominantly American comic strategy and its role in Mark Twain's fiction. Focusing on the writer's experiments with narrative structure, Wonham describes how Twain manipulated conventional approaches to reading and writing by engaging his audience in a series of rhetorical games - th...

From the Publisher

Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale is a study of a peculiar American comic strategy and its role in Mark Twain's fiction. Focusing on the writer's experiments with narrative structure, Wonham describes how Twain manipulated conventional approaches to reading and writing by engaging hisaudience in a series of rhetorical games--the ...

Henry B. Wonham is at University of Oregon.

other books by Henry B. Wonham

Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.54 × 5.71 × 0.91 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195078012

ISBN - 13:9780195078015

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From Our Editors

Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale explores a predominantly American comic strategy and its role in Mark Twain's fiction. Focusing on the writer's experiments with narrative structure, Wonham describes how Twain manipulated conventional approaches to reading and writing by engaging his audience in a series of rhetorical games - the rules of which he adapted from the conventions of the tall tale in American oral and written traditions. After surveying the rich history of yarn-spinning in America, Wonham traces Twain's appropriation of the genre through the course of his career, from The Innocents Abroad to Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Pudd'nhead Wilson. He contends that as Twain turned from short sketches to extended travelogues and quasi-fiction, he found in the tall tale a means of dramatizing his disparate comic material. Later, as Twain worked consciously to purge his writing of its anecdotal quality, the oral genre remained central to his imagination - less as a source of comic material than as a paradigmatic encounter between competing points of view, an e

Editorial Reviews

"A thorough reassessment of the tall tale as an oral tradition peculiar to the American experience....[Wonham] provides the reader with an innovative understanding of the tall tale and a reinterpretation of the entire Mark Twain canon."--American Studies