In 1880, Joel Chandler Harris, a moderate white Southern journalist, published a collection of black folktales, proverbs, songs, and character sketches based on stories he had heard as a child. In his introduction, Robert Hemenway discusses the book's enduring popularity, pointing out that the character of Uncle Remus, the docile and grandfatherly ex-slave storyteller, is a utopian figure-a literary creation by Harris that reassured white readers during the tense and tentative Reconstruction. By contrast, the feisty Brer Rabbit was a mainstay of black folklore long before Harris heard of his exploits. Brer Rabbit's cunning and revolutionary antics symbolically inverted the slave-master relationship and satisfied the deep human needs of a captive people.
Presents the legends, songs, and sayings of Uncle Remus, following the text of the first edition of Joel Chandler Harris' attempt to record traditional black stories of his time.