After I got my post all done, Metafilter says it wants a title!
November 25, 2009 6:51 PM   Subscribe

The Life and Times of Major Jack Downing of Downingville, away down east in the state of Maine, written by himself.

Seba Smith is oft-cited as America's first professional humorist, with his Jack Downing stories being published in 1833, two years before the first anthology of Southern humor appeared. Downing became an archetype almost immediately, representing the humor of rural Yankee life in letters.

While Downing made Smith famous, Smith was plagiarized widely by Charles Augustus Davis—whose Letters of J. Downing, Major, Downingville Militia were more widely known than the original. He was also plagiarized less directly by the Canadian author Judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton, whose "Sam Slick" became the default term for Northeasterners in the popular press.
posted by klangklangston (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm seeing a long-ass table of contents and then a few actual pages of a nearly-300-page book that ought to be in the public domain by now. I'm not complaining because they look like an amusing couple of pages, but is that what you were going for?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:02 PM on November 25, 2009


That's weird—for me, the whole book (which is in the public domain, but is only available online through googlebooks) is there. It's not a terribly long book.
posted by klangklangston at 7:20 PM on November 25, 2009


I got 38 pages...
posted by HuronBob at 7:28 PM on November 25, 2009


Whole book for me, also.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 7:28 PM on November 25, 2009


I also got 38 pages from google. But a quick searched showed the whole thing at Internet Archive in a variety of formats.
posted by hexatron at 7:42 PM on November 25, 2009


why the inconsistency on this...anyone have a clue?
posted by HuronBob at 7:54 PM on November 25, 2009


I only have a few pages too, but any and all of you should be finding the upper-left link to the full PDF working fine.

The recent google books controversy may have made things unstable. I don't know if anybody outside the US will see much.

HuronBob: “why the inconsistency on this...anyone have a clue?”

Because google books recently got into a huge amount of ridiculous trouble for scanning old out-of-print books. See here. To be more precise: people who like making money from books and people who like making money from computers (principally Amazon & Microsoft) are totally freaked out that google seems to be giving books away on computers, and therefore sued Google to make them stop.
posted by koeselitz at 8:12 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the PDF download link works for me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2009


The pdf download worked, but the pdf only contained 49 pages.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:55 PM on November 25, 2009


This copy is complete.
posted by Knappster at 9:29 PM on November 25, 2009


Hexatron—Thanks, I can't believe I missed that.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 PM on November 25, 2009


But he that will print his letters and put my name to 'em, I think would steal a sheep.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:13 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seba Smith kicked off a pretty popular literary genre with this thing. Some of the guys writing in it--Artemus Ward, George H. Derby--were even funny. Some were just plain weird, particularly when they got into deep American dialect. My favorite for pure verbal free jazz is the crude and rather cruel Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun by a Natural Born Durn'd Fool, by George Washington Harris. I've got a certain envy for anyone who could get paid to write a sentence like this:
"I wer onst a-ridin ontu the kers ove a raleroad, an' hed been livin on nuffin but sum bites ove whisky fur a hole day an' nite, an' felt like a congrigashun ove rats wer a-bildin thar nestes outen sifter wire in my stumick, an' a hive ove bees wer a-fixin tu swarm in my head, when the conducter run his foreaind intu the door, up tu the butt ove his watch-chain, an' holler'd—
'Tripetown—twenty minutes fur breakfus'.'"
posted by Splificator at 4:27 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be more precise: people who like making money from books and people who like making money from computers (principally Amazon & Microsoft) are totally freaked out that google seems to be giving books away on computers...

I noticed that there are links to buy the book from Amazon and others, FWIW.
posted by neuron at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2009


I have a love/hate going on with google books. I like to read things like this history of English sanitation and entirely apart from the now you see it now you don't shenanigans, sometimes whoever it is who scans them is extremely careless and doesn't make sure the whole page is there.

It is very distressing to be right in the middle of a paean to the genius of Joseph Bazalgette and suddenly have only half the page for the rest of the chapter.

I am going to have to settle down to read the adventures of this Major of Maine!
posted by winna at 10:01 AM on November 26, 2009


litlnemo has the same problem with her project.
posted by tellurian at 8:00 PM on November 26, 2009


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