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Uncle Bud Long: The Birth of a Kentucky Folk Legend

by Kenneth Clarke

Availablepaperback$35.00s 978-0-8131-5169-4
Availableweb pdf$35.00s 978-0-8131-6243-0
88 pages  Pubdate: 07/15/2014  6 x 8.5  Illus

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According to the scant historical records available, Uncle Bud Long, his daughter Janey, and her son Frankie lived near Clark’s Landing, Kentucky, for about twenty years early in this century. Mr. Clarke has collected the tales of the Longs’ strange ways from old-time residents of the community, both those who knew the Longs and those who inherited the stories by word of mouth. Here he skillfully weaves them into a loose narrative and, in addition, analyzes the ways in which the anecdotes have been transmuted in the process of retelling.

This analysis of the stories of Uncle Bud reveals much about the delicate process by which the oral folk tradition grows and thrives. Though at first glance these fragmentary anecdotes hardly seem to constitute a legend, Mr. Clarke convincingly argues that from such humble roots ultimately grows much of what we think of as “literature.”

Kenneth W. Clarke is professor of English and folklore at Western Kentucky University.