A Collection of Stories
This work is a book containing a collection of newspaper and magazine stories that had been published from the 1840’s to the 1860’s.
Notes Concerning the Author
George Washington Harris (1814—1869), a Tennessee River steamboat captain and part-time writer, has been described as an “authentic comic genius” and “the most original and gifted of all the antebellum humorists.” His irrepressible character “Sut Lovingood” is obviously reflected in the works of Mark Twain, and two 20th century greats of Southern literature, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, have specifically cited Harris as an influence.
Like most antebellum Southern humorists, Harris’s work was occasional, published in a variety of newspapers and magazines and only later appearing between book covers. (Like the authors at 11.02.03 and 11.02.07.) The one published in 1867 is the only book version in Harris’s lifetime. A century later the Vanderbilt University Press re-published the work under the title High Times and Hard Times: Sketches and Tales.
“Sut Lovingood,” a Tennessee mountaineer, likes to refer to himself as a “nat’ral born durn’d fool” in the many letters about his experiences that he writes to his friend George. Actually he is not a fool but quite a shrewd man. But his carousing and aggressiveness are always getting him into foolish scrapes from which he can escape only by flourishing a pistol or rapidly deploying his long legs for escape. Sut’s tales are tough and unsentimental. Although born in Pennsylvania and living among “Unionists” in Knoxville, Harris was an ardent secessionist and a strong Confederate, spending most of the war as a refugee. Among the most amusing of the tales are the series that report how Sut found himself on the train with Abe Lincoln on his way to inauguration and became a confidant to Lincoln’s schemes and anxieties. One of the more serious pieces is Sut’s postwar meditation on the evil character of “The Puritan Yankee.”
Availability of these Stories
The 1867 Yarns can be found online.