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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the ways in which nineteenth-century American humor influenced realist writers. Down East humor and Southwestern humor in the first half of the century and literary comedians and local colorists in the second half provided models for ways to use humor to establish a sense of life, setting, characterization, satire, and social comment. An analysis of key comic scenes and techniques in Henry James’s The American, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham, Charles Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine,” and Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country shows how these writers used humor as a device in their development of realism.

Keywords: humor, realism, Down East humor, Southwestern humor, literary comedians, local color

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