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Tall tales and the art of exaggeration
Tall tales and the art of exaggeration

Author(s): Nancy Cassell McEntire
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore, Oral history, Semantics, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Keywords: tall tale; storyteller; anecdote; oral performance; American frontier; structural analysis; understatement; visual humor; tall-tale postcards;

Summary/Abstract: With roots in the Old World and fertile ground in the New World, the tall tale flourished in America, especially within the boasting, expansive atmosphere of the American frontier (BURRISON 1991: 6–7). Hunting, fishing, weather, domestic life, and agriculture were popular topics, and opportunities for artful exaggeration were numerous. This paper examines the tall tale as artistic folk humor in which the narrative is carefully constructed and performed for best effect. Field recordings, printed texts, and folklore-archive texts will provide examples for analysis. Finally, examples of tall-tale postcards add a visual dimension to the genre.

  • Issue Year: 54/2009
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 125-134
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: English