Mules and Men is a treasury of black America's folklore as collected by a famous storyteller and anthropologist who grew up hearing the songs and sermons, sayings and the tall tales that have formed an oral history of the South since the time of slavery.
An important piece of American literature. Good reference book - delight to read.
This is a collection of many types of tales and myths.
I first read Zoras most renowned work, Their Eyes Were Watching God, in 2010 when I found it on a publishers reading list of 20th century novels. Much later I found this book on a high school reading list for the 1950s. Why I still have this list no one knows, including me. Mules and Men is listed under a caption Songs and Ballads: neither of which is the focus of the book (although several are reproduced in the Appendix). The book is divided into two parts: Folk Tales which is a mixture of fictionalized non-fiction and tall talesotherwise known as liesthe lyin part dominating) and Hoodoo, her research into Afro-American superstition. Much like Uncle Remus, the Folk Tales dialog is in the vernacular of its day. It takes some gettin used to. But, unlike the Harris classic, the lyin lacks the moral message. None the less, most are amusing as her characters vie to tell the most outrageous lie.
This read is a classic collection of folk stories and tall tales from the lives of our Negro citizens. Many feature a characcter named John. Interactions between Massa and John flow throughout the collection. "Jack or John is the great human culture hero in Negro folklore." (p. 247) So many of the stories in this book feature John. Some are tragic while others are humorouas. The devil is depicted as a trickster encountered by John and other characters. These tales allow the reader a look into the past of our Afro-Americans. I enjoyed the book very much and found many of them them delightful.