[Marxism] True Grit? Humbug....a response.

Thomas Bias biastg at embarqmail.com
Sun Dec 26 10:40:37 MST 2010


Interesting stuff. A lot of my mother's family were living in SW Missouri at
the time and were strongly pro-Lincoln and anti-slavery. I'd be curious if
they knew Mr. Kelso and might have fought with him. Some of my mother's
family came from the Arkansas Ozarks; from what I can gather, they hiked up
to Indiana to join the Union army, and nearly all of them died, either from
combat or disease. The one of my mother's ancestors who returned was a
great-grandfather who was a medical doctor and spent the war in field
hospitals. You can just imagine the suffering he witnessed.

Just in relation to the language: if you read the letters from that period,
you realize that they really did express themselves differently than we do.
Victorian language really was 35-word sentences, perfectly composed. Shortly
before the publication of his historical novel "Cloudsplitter" (about John
Brown), Russell Banks (my favorite living writer) gave a reading in
Princeton, which I attended. He talked about how did the research for the
book, which included reading a lot of letters, and he described how
differently people in the mid-19th century wrote and talked, and also what
they read. For example, a typical farmhouse in John Brown's time might have
included two or three books. One would inevitably be the King James version
of the Bible; most likely the second would be Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's
Progress," and if there were a third it would likely be a collection of
Shakespeare. A country doctor would also have Grey's "Anatomy."

The HBO series "Deadwood," which was about the gold rush in the Black Hills
of South Dakota in the late 1870s, attempted to recreate some of that
language, even though the popular impression is that the only word in the
show's dialogue was "cocksucker." For example, everyone referred to the
miserable excuse for a road as a "thoroughfare." The hotel owner also
referred to George Hearst's Black servant as an "Ethiope." Hearst, played by
Gerald McRaney, called her "my nigger cook." Whether people actually talked
the way they wrote we can probably never know, but the series's writers
attempted to create the dialogue based on how people in Victorian times
wrote letters, and they wrote A LOT of letters.

Tom

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces+biastg=embarqmail.com at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf
Of Mark Lause
Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2010 1:47 AM
To: Thomas Bias
Subject: Re: [Marxism] True Grit? Humbug....a response.

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Just up the line in southwest Missouri, John Russell Kelso was an Ohio born
schoolteacher on the eve of the Civil War.  A college man and up on all the
latest ideas of the wider world....  When the war broke out, secessionist
guerrillas (like the fictional Rooster Cogburn) began butchering his
unionist neighbors, so Kelso organized local militia into small groups that
could deal with them.  Wild Bill Hickok came out these unionist bands down
there, and the Lost Causers in that part of the world still malign them for
having been so ruthlessly efficient.  His men later told stories about how
he'd stake out an ambush, pull out his firearm and a Latin grammar book...so
he could practice his subjunctive, I guess, before he'd have to start
shooting.







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