local colour

local colour

      style of writing derived from the presentation of the features and peculiarities of a particular locality and its inhabitants. The name is given especially to a kind of American literature that in its most characteristic form made its appearance just after the Civil War and for nearly three decades was the single most popular form of American literature, fulfilling a newly awakened public interest in distant parts of the country and, for some, providing a nostalgic memory of times gone by. It concerned itself mainly with depicting the character of a particular region, concentrating especially upon the peculiarities of dialect, manners, folklore, and landscape that distinguish the area. The frontier novels of James Fenimore Cooper (Cooper, James Fenimore) have been cited as precursors of the local colour story, as have the New York Dutch tales of Washington Irving (Irving, Washington). The California Gold Rush provided a vivid and exciting background for the stories of Bret Harte (Harte, Bret), whose "The Luck of Roaring Camp" (1868), with its use of miners' dialect, colourful characters, and Western background, is among the early local colour stories.

      Harte was not the only local colourist to begin as a humorist. His unavailing efforts to solicit quality writing for the Overland Monthly eventually led him to simply mock with overblown verse the mentality of the uncritical western writers. His lead in the satiric vein was followed by a number of men—George Horatio Derby and the master of dialect spelling, Robert Henry Newell, among them. Other writers of the “Old Southwest” (i.e., Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and later Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana) joined in the satirical, broadly humorous style. Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twain (Twain, Mark), apprenticed with Harte during this period. His adaptation of the local colour story—and the humorist subgenre—to the tall tale and life on the Mississippi River make his antecedents clear.

      Many well-known authors first achieved success with vivid descriptions of their own localities: Harriet Beecher Stowe (Stowe, Harriet Beecher), Rose Terry Cooke (Cooke, Rose Terry), and Sarah Orne Jewett (Jewett, Sarah Orne) wrote of New England; George Washington Cable (Cable, George W.), Joel Chandler Harris (Harris, Joel Chandler), and Kate Chopin (Chopin, Kate) described the Deep South; Thomas Nelson Page (Page, Thomas Nelson) romanticized Virginia plantation life; Lafcadio Hearn (Hearn, Lafcadio), before he began his Japanese adventures, wrote of New Orleans; Edward Eggleston (Eggleston, Edward) wrote of Indiana frontier days; Mary Noailles Murfree (Murfree, Mary Noailles) told stories of the Tennessee mountaineers; and O. Henry (Henry, O.) was a brilliant chronicler of both the Texas frontier and the streets of New York City. Among the many writers who inherited and drew upon the local colour traditions may be numbered Willa Cather (Cather, Willa), William Faulkner (Faulkner, William), and Grace Paley (Paley, Grace).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • local colour — noun 1. Faithful, characteristic details of particular scenery, manners, etc, giving verisimilitude in works of art and fiction 2. Colour of individual items as apart from the general colour scheme in a picture • • • Main Entry: ↑local * * *… …   Useful english dictionary

  • local colour — BrE local color AmE n [U] additional details in a story or picture that give you a better idea of what a place is really like ▪ His description of the smells from the market added a touch of local color …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • local colour — N UNCOUNT Local colour is used to refer to customs, traditions, dress, and other things which give a place or period of history its own particular character. The fishing boat harbour was usually bustling with lots of local colour. (in AM, use… …   English dictionary

  • local colour — /loʊkəl ˈkʌlə/ (say lohkuhl kuluh) noun 1. distinctive characteristics or peculiarities of a place or period as represented in literature, drama, etc., or observed in reality: *These writers created concepts from their own environment, so that… …  

  • local colour — BrE local color AmE noun (U) additional details in a story or picture that give you a better idea of what a place is really like: His description of the smells from the market added a touch of local color …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • local colour — noun 1》 the characteristic customs or other aspects of a place or period. 2》 Art the actual colour of a thing in ordinary daylight, without the influence of other colours in proximity …   English new terms dictionary

  • local colour — UK / US noun [uncountable] informal interesting details about the typical features, customs etc of a place …   English dictionary

  • colour — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} (BrE) (AmE color) noun 1 quality that makes sth red, etc. ADJECTIVE ▪ bold, bright, brilliant, glowing, iridescent, vibrant, vivid ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

  • local color — noun 1. : the color belonging to an object under normal daylight and not caused by accidental influences (as of reflection or shadow) 2. : color in writing derived from the presentation of the features and peculiarities of a particular locality… …   Useful english dictionary

  • colour — colour1 W1S1 BrE color AmE [ˈkʌlə US ər] n ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(red/blue/green etc)¦ 2¦(colour in general)¦ 3¦(somebody s race)¦ 4 people/women/students etc of color 5¦(substance)¦ 6 in (full) colour 7¦(somebody s face)¦ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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