The House of the Black Ring
- Copyright: 2012
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
- Page Count: 256 pages Illustrations: 1 illustration/1 map
- Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05420-9
“This book is a gift to those interested in the history of Penn State and the rich cultures that surround it. Julia Spicher Kasdorf does a brilliant job of placing Fred Lewis Pattee and his neglected novel within their historical moment, and her love of this labor shines bright from start to finish.”
“Like the Appalachian writer Mary Noailles Murfree, Fred Lewis Pattee locates his novel in a landscape both recognizable and mysterious; like other local-color and regionalist writers at the turn of the twentieth century, Pattee crafts a prose that contrasts his narrator’s standard English with his characters’ Pennsylvanian and Appalachian dialect. At the same time, his heroine adds ‘New Woman’ determination, horsemanship, and a touch of modernity to regional fiction. Readers who like a mystery—and then appreciate the complexity of plot ties unraveled at the end—will find The House of the Black Ring a real page-turner. Those with additional knowledge of Pattee’s role in the founding and definition of ‘American literature’ will enjoy this example of the influential historian’s imagination.”
“A boyhood gift from my father (Pennsylvania State College Class of 1910), who had studied under Professor Pattee, The House of the Black Ring spurred my own lifelong fascination with Pennsylvania Dutch culture. And it encouraged my ethnographic interest in my own homeland, Central Pennsylvania. Larded with dialect locutions familiar from my Centre County kinfolk’s talk, and with its sensational episodes of powwowing and witchcraft, it fleshed out neglected aspects of Pennsylvania’s rich folklife, even in its fictional form. The introduction capably sets Pattee in the then-new field of American literary scholarship and cites his book as a pioneering example of the turn-of-the-century local-color fiction about Pennsylvania. And worth the price of the book is Pattee’s opening sentence—ascribing the Seven Mountains to the refuse left over by the Great Architect after Creation!”
“Editors Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Joshua Brown not only reproduce a highly entertaining regional story in The House of the Black Ring but also contribute to vital local color and Pennsylvania German studies. Fred Lewis Pattee’s ‘haunting’ style and romantic viewpoint compare interestingly with the work of other writers of Pennsylvania Dutch local color, such as Helen Riemensnyder Martin and Elsie Singmaster.
Pattee’s novel questions the meaning of ‘home’ among turn-of-the-century America’s expanding multicultural population. As an ‘outlander’—a native New Englander living among the Pennsylvania Dutch—Pattee’s personal sense of otherness adds a poignant twist to his portrayal of his ethnic neighbors. Fascinatingly, the over one-hundred-year-old story voices a topic relevant to American society today: the search for ‘belonging’ among a diverse and dynamic people.”
Fred Lewis Pattee, long regarded as the father of American literary study, also wrote fiction. Originally published in 1905 by Henry Holt, The House of the Black Ring was Pattee’s second novel—a local-color romance set in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. The book’s plot is driven by family feud, forbidden love, and a touch of the supernatural. This new edition makes this novel accessible to new generations of modern-day readers. General readers will find in The House of the Black Ring a thriller that preserves details of rural life and language during the late nineteenth century. Scholars will read it as an expression of cultural anxiety and change in the decades after the Civil War.
An introduction by poet and essayist Julia Spicher Kasdorf situates the novel within the context of social and literary history, as well as Pattee’s own biography, and provides a compelling argument for its importance, not only as a literary artifact or record of local customs, but also as a reflection of Pattee’s own story intertwined with the history of Penn State at the turn of the twentieth century. Joshua Brown draws on his expertise in Pennsylvania German ethno-linguistics to interpret the dialect writing and to give readers a clearer view of the customs and regionalisms depicted in the book.
Introduction Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Note on the Publication History James L. W. West III
The House of the Black Ring
Preface to the 1916 Edition
I. The Affair at Tressler’s Farm
II. Where the Devil Treads, Who Looks for Snow?
III. Rose Hartswick
IV. The Wooing at Hartswick Hall
V. The Horse-Racing on Moon Run
VI. The Windy Side of the Law
VII. The Flitting Dinner
VIII. The Firing of Heller’s Cabin
IX. The Fire on Cherry Creek
X. The Mill Down Foaming Valley
XI. Lona Heller
XII. The Play and the Chorus
XIII. The Pow-wowing at Roaring Run
XIV. In the Wild Azalea
XV. The Murder in Sugar Valley
XVI. The Mob at Heller’s Gap
XVII. The Hour of the Powers of Darkness
XVIII. In the Heart of the Limestone
XIX. The Last of the Hartswicks
XX. The Revenge of Matthew Heller
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