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Out of the Northwoods

The Many Lives of Paul Bunyan
Edmonds, M. E. (Book - 2009)
Out of the Northwoods
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Out of the Northwoods presents the culture of nineteenth-century lumberjacks in their own words. It includes eyewitness accounts of how the first Bunyan stories were shared on frigid winter nights, around logging camp stoves, in the Wisconsin pinery. It describes where the tales began, how they moved out of the forest and into print, and why publication changed them forever. Part bibliographic mystery and part social history, Out of the Northwoods explains for the first time why we all know and love Paul Bunyan. An appendix includes more than 100 original tales about Bunyan, his camps, his crew, and his adventures taken directly from loggers early in the last century.

Every American has heard of the lumberjack hero Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. For 100 years his exploits filled cartoons, magazines, short stories, and children's books, and his name advertised everything from pancake breakfasts to construction supplies. By 1950 Bunyan was a ubiquitous icon of America's strength and ingenuity. Until now, no one knew where he came from—and the extent to which this mythical hero is rooted in Wisconsin. 

Out of the Northwoods presents the culture of nineteenth-century lumberjacks in their own words. It includes eyewitness accounts of how the first Bunyan stories were shared on frigid winter nights, around logging camp stoves, in the Wisconsin pinery. It describes where the tales began, how they moved out of the forest and into print, and why publication changed them forever. Part bibliographic mystery and part social history, Out of the Northwoods explains for the first time why we all know and love Paul Bunyan.


Book News
While the tales of how the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan used an entire lake to make pancake batter for his logging crew, or how he and Babe his blue ox logged off the Dakotas seem timeless, the first known Bunyan tales go back only to the early 1880s. In this scholarly (but nonetheless very entertaining) book, Wisconsin historian Edmonds traces the Bunyan stories to their origins among 19th century lumberjacks, shows how they moved out of the North Woods and into print, and looks at how the stories themselves were changed along the way. In his account, the author introduces readers to a genial con man who claimed he invented Paul Bunyan, a spunky university co-ed who collected the tales in logging camps in 1915, and a mild-mannered curator of the Wisconsin Historical Museum whose efforts ensured the survival of the stories' early logging-camp versions. With an appendix containing 100 Bunyan tales as originally collected, this book will appeal to folklorists, historians of popular culture, and readers who want to know the real story behind their favorite tall tales. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Authors: Edmonds, M. E.
Statement of Responsibility: by Michael Edmonds
Title: Out of the northwoods
the many lives of Paul Bunyan
Publisher: Madison, Wis. : Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2009
Characteristics: xv, 282 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 227-246) and index
Contents: Who was Paul Bunyan?
Bunyan?s origins in fact and fiction
Lumberjacks and their culture
How the tales were told
The earliest surviving versions
The curious claims of Gene Shepard
Out of the woods and onto the page
Stewart and watt, the first careful collectors
Charles brown gets caught in the middle
Bunyan becomes a celebrity
Competing claims to fame
Subject Headings: Bunyan, Paul (Legendary character) Legends
Topical Term: Bunyan, Paul (Legendary character)
LCCN: 2009005646
Sudoc No: HIS.2:B 85/2009 widocs
ISBN: 9780870204371
0870204378
Branch Call Number: 398.2097 E
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