Rus Articles Journal

Who thought up the Brother Lis and the Brother Krolik? Joel Chandler Harris`s memories. Whether

the writer Has the right for authorship if he works with folklore? And what to do if ancient work does not correspond to present canons of political correctness? The questions posed closely concerned the well-known “Fairy tales of the uncle Rimus“ published by Joel Chandler Harris more than hundred years ago.

Whether the writer has the right for authorship if he works with folklore? And what to do if ancient work does not correspond to present canons of political correctness?

The questions posed closely concerned the well-known “Fairy tales of the uncle Rimus“ published by Joel Chandler Harris more than hundred years ago. Yes, those - with the Brother Lis and the Brother Krolik...

Probably, Harris fairly would be surprised if he learned that he will begin to be accused of “theft“ and, it is worse than that, in racism! It it - that, all life of one of the most nice Black characters of old America opposing racial intolerance and created.

About life of slaves Harris knew firsthand. And the destiny first did not indulge him - though “white“...

Our hero in the city of Itonton of the State of Georgia was born on December 9, 1848. The Irish emigrant - Mary Ann Harris was his mother, and here only the fact that he deserted a family right after the son`s birth is known of the father. As parents were not married, the boy received a surname from mother, a name Chandler - in honor of the mother`s uncle, and a name Joel - from... her attending physician.

With doctors Harrisam in general was lucky. “A kind angel“ of this poor family was one more doctor - Andrew Reyd who not only allocated it for accommodation the small cottage, but also paid Joel`s training at school.

The base blood fact, stutter and a red hair color created favorable circumstances for internal uncertainty. The boy coped with it as could and quickly became famous at school as the fair funnyman and the rascal. Then also other his talents - the love to reading imparted by mother, ability to write harmoniously also an infallible memory were shown.

However plainly Joel did not happen to study up. In 1862 it should be employed on a plantation to Joseph Eddison Turner. No, Joel did not stoop on beds, he was certain “errand boy“ at Turner`s printing house which issued the newspaper - one of the largest newspapers of Confederation of times of civil war. The beginner so well proved that Turner allowed it to use the rich library, and soon even began to publish the first verses, reviews and humoresques written by Joel in the newspaper.

Besides, in off-duty time the boy very much liked to visit local slaves - George Terrell, the Old man Herbert and the aunt Chrissie. From them he for the first time also heard those tales of prokazlivy animals which will halloo in “Uncle Rimus“.

But before it was still far... In 1866, after the end of Civil war between Northern and Southern states, Harris left a plantation and some time wandered on the different cities, working in habitual publishing. Soon it returned to native Georgia where wrote for the largest newspaper of staff - “Morning news of Savannah“. There it also became famous for the sharp political feuilletons.

In 1876, already married, Harris leaves Georgia from - for epidemics of yellow fever. His subsequent career of the journalist is inseparably linked with the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Constitution newspaper now. Actually, here famous “uncle Rimus“ was also born.

In spite of the fact that Harris had 9 children (the truth, three died in infancy), they had no relation to emergence of fairy tales. Joel`s colleague - Sam Smoll who kept the so-called “folklore“ section in the newspaper had relation. Somehow Smoll had to leave and keep the partition into time somewhere charged to Harris. And here article from the Lippincott`s magazine successfully came across to our hero eyes. It was devoted to Black folklore, and the tale of the Brother Krolike and the Pitch effigy was given as an example. The subject was native - Harris heard similar fairy tales for Turner`s plantation much.

On July 20, 1879 Joel publishes the first tale of Krolik and Lis. It was purely “the working moment“, no “series“ were planned. However when Smoll returned for work, Harris`s fairy tale very much was pleasant to him and he insisted on continuation.

In 1880 34 fairy tales were united in the collection and Uncle Remus are published under the name “: His Songs and His Sayings“ (“Uncle Rimus: its songs and fairy tale“). The book made success - in 4 months 10 thousand copies were sold out.

It became for the writer surprise. Here it is necessary to mention that he signed the works of art “Joel Chandler Harris“, and journalistic articles - “Joe Harris“. And so, on memoirs of one of colleagues, “Joe Harris not really - that appreciated Joel Chandler Harris“. Nevertheless the epic proceeded. In total nine collections about the uncle Rimus were published (three left after death of the writer).

The effect of these fairy tales was tremendous. Mark Twain noted that “as regards the description of a Black dialect, Harris is the only master in the country“ . And Rudyard Kipling admitted the letter to Harris that his fairy tales “ran as the fire through the English public schools … We found ourselves quoting the whole pages of “Uncle Rimus“ which were interwoven into fabric of school life“ . Harris`s influence also other authors of fairy tales mentioned about animals: for example, Beatrice Potter (the creator of “Krolik Peter“) and Alexander Alan Milne (the creator “Winnie - Down“).

Of course, fairy tales about the “speaking“ animals existed in folklore and before. The image of the Brother Krolik, for certain, was delivered by slaves directly from Africa where long ago in the course there were tales of excellent sly fellows like Pauchka Anansi or the Hare (just Krolik is more habitual for America). The same concerns also a set of plots from “Uncle Rimus“ which are traced in fairy tales of the most different people - like stories about a pitch effigy, a thorny bush or fishing on a tail.

However Harris not just wrote down the fairy tales, he gave them unity, having united all heroes in the special world. Of course, animals at it are fairly humanized - they build houses, look after kitchen gardens, smoke cigars... In them it is easy to identify inhabitants of the American South.

Mark Twain “Life to Mississippi“:

“Everyone who wanted to stand well with the fellow citizens paraded the religiousness and always had a set of unctuous phrases. In the West and in the south, and even, which - where in the east, people did not speak simply “Mr. Smith“ or “Mrs. Jones“ did not, they called each other “brother Smith“ or “the sister Jones“ that was reflected in fairy tales of “Uncle Rimus“ where “brother Krolik“ and “brother Lis“ participate“.


at all indefinable characters - like the Mother Midous Meet daughters.

D. Harris of “Fairy tale of the uncle Rimus“:

“- And who is a Mother Midous? - the boy asked.

- Do not interrupt, the friend. Well it is just like that told in the fairy tale: The mother Midous with daughters, and any more I know nothing“.


Reached that certain artists managed even to represent the mother and daughters in the form of the slender ladies reminding Ancient Greek goddesses.

In “Fairy tales of the uncle Rimus“ there are no villains unambiguously positive and. Stories serve, first of all, for entertainment and are under construction on the ridiculous “gags“ glorifying cunning and sharpness.

Here the Brother Krolik creeps in a kitchen garden of the Brother Lis and right there gets to a trap. However, later time, already he deceives passing by the Brother Medvedya - a pier, I not just hang in a loop, and I work as the watchman for dollar an hour. It is clear, that the Bear wants to earn additionally too...

D. Harris of “Fairy tale of the uncle Rimus“:

“... did not pass also minutes, the Brother Medved hung over a pea bed instead of the Brother Krolik.

And Krolik - at full speed to Old Lis`s house. Came running and shouts:

- Brother Lis! Rather, the Brother Lis I will show you who at you drags peas!

Old Lis grabbed a stick, they were let together to pea beds. Resort, and the Brother Medved everything hangs.

- Aha! Got at last! - the Brother Lis told.

And before the Bear managed to open a mouth, the Brother Krolik lifted shout:

- On his teeth, the Brother Lis! On teeth!“


practically all characters - Krolik, Lis, the Opossum, the Turtle, the Egyptian vulture try to Deceive each other. Sometimes one is lucky, sometimes - to another... Heroes quarrel among themselves, are reconciled...

In one of prefaces to the Russian edition of 2005 I even met a passage that in these fairy tales “there is a continuous fight for life where everyone for itself“ . The quite good preface to the children`s book! It is good that the story-teller “uncle Rimus“ is not and will screw a shred of morals and worldly wisdom in the story.

Be continued.