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Uncle Remus

Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris
By: (1848-1908)

Bearing a striking resemblance to Aesop of Aesop's Fables fame, American author Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus is also a former slave who loves to tell simple and pithy stories. Uncle Remus or to give it its original title, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings was published in late 1880 and received instant acclaim. The book was reviewed in hundreds of journals and newspapers across the country, leading to its immense success, both critical and financial.

“Remus” was originally a fictional character in a newspaper column. Harris, who was a journalist with the Atlanta Constitution, a small-town newspaper, first presented Remus to the world via a regular column in which Remus was depicted as a person who regularly visited the newspaper offices to talk about the social issues of the day. However, later, Remus began to increasingly recount plantation folktales that Harris had compiled. He had heard them from the slaves of Turnworld Plantation as a 16 year old school dropout, working as an apprentice in a newspaper office located in the area. Harris was a poor, illegitimate, immigrant Irish boy who found more in common with the slaves on the plantation than with his so called social equals. He spent much of his free time in the slave quarters, absorbing their lifestyle, folklore and legends.

Uncle Remus is famous also for one of its most lovable and astute characters, Br'er Rabbit. This smart, yet mischievous fellow and his companions have provided endless entertainment for generations of children. The original stories were rendered in authentic Southern Georgia slave dialect and later adapted so that they could be better understood. Apart from the doings of the trickster rabbit, Uncle Remus contains poems, songs and folk-tales deeply rooted in the plantation tradition. Though early critics were dismayed by the apparent racist nature of the stories and the passive acceptance of the slave-owning situation, modern versions have overcome these aspects and Uncle Remus today provides education, information and entertainment for children and parents.

The 29 books that were originally written have been compiled into nine Uncle Remus series and three books were published posthumously. A total of 185 Uncle Remus stories were penned and they were path breaking in their depiction of the authentic speech of the Southern plantations. Extensively adapted for radio, animation, film and television, Uncle Remus is today an essential part of children's literature. In fact, not just children, but older readers too will find the book a delightful classic!

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - June 7, 2013
Such a great collection of stories and a very capable reader! My kids love listening to these stories, and do listen to them more than once. We played them on a long (15 hour) car trip, and it was entertaining for everyone, not just the kids. The reader is excellent, and I plan on looking for more of his recordings. He gives each character a unique (but not annoying) voice, and really makes the stories come alive. Also, when not in character, he has a very pleasing narrative voice.

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