Monday, May 30, 2011

A lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect

Five or six years ago a lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect, so that she could get an idea of what that variety of speech was like. I told her one of Hopkinson Smith's Negro stories, and gave her a copy of 'Harper's Monthly' containing it. She translated it for a Swedish newspaper, but by an oversight named me as the author of it instead of Smith. I was very sorry for that, because I got a good lashing in the Swedish press, which would have fallen to his share but for that mistake; for it was shown that Boccaccio had told that very story, in his curt and meagre fashion, five hundred years before Smith took hold of it and made a good and tellable thing out of it.

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