John M Baker
jbaker at world.std.com
Tue Oct 25 19:26:31 CET 1994
I take it that Br'er Rabbit is unknown to many of the
non-American readers on this list, except from the Disney stories. A
little background may be helpful.
Unlike many of the other Disney adaptations, Br'er Rabbit is not
(in the United States) known primarily or even to any large extent as a
Disney character. Instead, Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, et al.
are known primarily through stories written by Joel Chandler Harris in
the early 1880s. Uncle Remus, the narrator of these stories, is an old
black man living in the American South, and he tells the stories to a
small white boy. Naturally, everything that Uncle Remus says is in heavy
dialect, which today is an impediment to the stories' popularity. "Br'er
Rabbit and the Tar Baby," however, continues to be popular, often
surviving through retellings.
Harris did not invent the animal characters. He must, however,
have written most of the stories from scratch, for there are too many to
be all his recollections from childhood. The animals themselves are not
black or white - they're animals, remember? But since they speak through
Uncle Remus, they speak of necessity in a black dialect. When Disney used
these characters in the motion picture, "Song of the South," they expanded
the relationship between Uncle Remus and the little boy to become the
central story, with some animated sequences featuring the animals.
John M. Baker <jbaker at world.std.com>
Hutchins, Wheeler & Dittmar, 101 Federal St., Boston, MA 02110
Phone 617/951-6623 Fax 617/951-1295
On Tue, 25 Oct 1994, =?iso-8859-1?Q?J=F8rgen_Andreas_Bangor?= wrote:
> David and Wilmer:
> Thanx for explainig what kind of character Br'er Rabbit is
> (in the U.S.). I did "suspect" he was a hillbilly, but I
> didn't know he was black. That must really be a problem for
> Disney... or isn't he black anymore if they change his
> Zomo - that's interesting. I didn't know he was a character
> from black folklore. In Norway his name is simply Langore
> (Long Ear), and he's nothing but a little animal living in
> the forest (like Chip & Dale and Bongo), but Br'er Fox and
> Br'er Bear is called Mikkel Rev and Bamse Brakar. These
> are characters from Norwegian folk tales. The fox is always
> making a fool of the bear.
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