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North America


Settler Tales

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The tales in Pot-Likker are firmly rooted in the folk traditions that have evolved since Europeans arrived on the continent.

Many traditional American stories and tall tales are based on real-life historical figures such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, while others are pure fiction such as Paul Bunyan and the Lone Ranger. Some narratives are born of exaggeration, while others were created to help make sense of aspects of the world not understood at the time, and others to shape the ideals of society.

The founding of the United States is often surrounded by legends and tall tales. Many stories have developed since the founding long ago to become a part of America's folklore and cultural awareness, and non-Native American folklore especially includes any narrative which has contributed to the shaping of American culture and belief systems. These narratives may be true and may be false or may be a little true and a little false; the veracity of the stories is not necessarily a determining factor.

A number of these tales are also examples of early fictional writing in America, combining folklore and social commentary in innovative ways. Kate Chopin in particular embodies this form in her tales set in Louisiana.

The tall tale is also a fundamental element of American folk literature. The tall tale's origins are seen in the bragging contests that often occurred when men of the American frontier gathered. A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual.

Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events; others are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the American Old West, or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are usually humorous or good-natured. The line between myth and tall tale is distinguished primarily by age; many myths exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but in tall tales the exaggeration looms large, to the extent of becoming the whole of the story.

I feel that we are just touching the tip of the iceberg here, based on those few texts that I've collected so far. There is, I believe a vast weight of storytelling beneath the waters upon which we sail in this collection. I hope that you enjoy these tales as much as I have in their discovery and their mild adaptation.

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