A Fool's Errand

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1961 - Fiction - 404 pages
2 Reviews

What was a carpetbagger? Albion W. Tourg√©e was called one, and he wrote, ‚eoeTo the southern mind it meant a scion of the North, a son of an ‚e~abolitionist,‚e(tm) a creature of the conqueror, a witness to their defeat, a mark of their degradation: to them he was hateful, because he recalled all of evil or of shame they had ever known ... To the Northern mind, however, the word had no vicarious significance. To their apprehension, the hatred was purely personal, and without regard to race or nativity. They thought (foolish creatures!) that it was meant to apply solely to those, who, without any visible means of support, lingering in the wake of a victorious army, preyed upon the conquered people.‚e

Tourg√©e‚e(tm)s novel, originally published in 1879 anonymously as A Fool‚e(tm)s Errand, By One of the Fools, is not strictly autobiographical, though it draws on Tourg√©e‚e(tm)s own experiences in the South. In the story Comfort Servosse, a Northerner of French ancestry, moves to a Southern state for his health and in the hope of making his fortune. These were also Tourg√©e‚e(tm)s motives for moving South. Servosse is caught up in a variety of experiences that make apparent the deep misunderstanding between North and South, and expresses opinions on the South‚e(tm)s intolerance, the treatment of the Negro, Reconstruction, and other issues that probably are the opinions of Tourg√©e himself. ‚eoeReconstruction was a failure,‚e he said, ‚eoeso far as it attempted to unify the nation, to make one people in fact of what had been one only in name before the convulsion of Civil War. It was a failure, too, so far as it attempted to fix and secure the position and rights of the colored race.‚e

Though the discussion of sectional and racial problems is an important element in the book, A Fool‚e(tm)s Errand has merit as a dramatic narrative‚e"with its love affair, and its moments of pathos, suffering, and tragedy. This combination of tract and melodrama made it a bestseller in its day. Total sales have been estimated as 200,000, a remarkable record in the l880‚e(tm)s for a book of this kind.

Though Tourg√©e later disavowed his early optimism about the role national education could play in remedying the race problem in the South, calling this a ‚eoegenuine fools notion,‚e he might have been less pessimistic had he been alive in 1960, when the student sit-in movement began in the South. At any rate, today in what has been called the second phase of the modern revolution in race relations in this country, Tourg√©e‚e(tm)s novel about the first phase has an added relevance and interest for thinking American readers.

Albion W. Tourg√©e was born in Williamsfield, Ohio, in 1838, attended the University of Rochester, and saw intermittent action (1861-1863) in the Union Army during the Civil Way. After his discharge he studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1864, and when the war ended, he settled in Greens- here, North Carolina, where he soon rose to prominence, as judge and as outspoken opponent of the anti-Reconstructionists. He left the state in 1879. Among his published works are ‚e(tm)Toinette (1874), Figs and Thistles (1879), Bricks Without Straw (1880), John Eax (1882), and Hot Plowshares (1883). He died in 1903 while serving as American consul in Bordeaux.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - patito-de-hule - LibraryThing

A Fool's Errand was Tourgee's first successful novel, published in 1879. It was immensely popular in the North, roundly criticized in the South. There are two threads of plot. One is historical, the ... Read full review

Contents

LETTER TO THE PUBLISHERS
5
THE GENESIS OF FOLLY
9
LE PREMIER ACCES I
13
SORROW COMETH WITH KNOWLEDGE
17
FROM BAD TO WORSE 2 I
23
THE ORACLE IS CONSULTED
26
ALL LOST BUT HONOR
29
AN OLD UNIONER
33
A GRUMBLERS FORECAST
169
BALAK AND BALAAM
173
A NEW INSTITUTION
181
A BUNDLE OF DRY STICKS
193
FOOTING UP THE LEDGER
197
A THRICETOLD TALE 2 05
211
THE FOLLY OF WISDOM
224
OUT OF THE ABUNDANCE OF THE HEART
232

THEIR EXITS AND THEIR ENTRANCES
41
THE NEW KINGDOM
45
POOR TRAY
50
A CAT IN A STRANGE GARRET
56
X11 COMPELLED TO VOLUNTEER
64
A TWOHANDED GAME
68
MURDER MOST FOUL
77
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
83
THE EDGE OF HOSPITALITY DULLED
97
THE SECOND MILE POST
100
CONGRATULATION AND CONDOLENCE
105
CITIZENS IN EMBRYO 11 3
113
OUT OF DUE SEASON
128
HOW THE WISE MEN BUILDED
136
COCKCROW
147
THE DIE IS CAST
154
WISDOM CRIETH IN THE STREETS
161
xxxiu LOVE ME LOVE MY DOG
241
THE HARVEST OF WISDOM
250
AN AWAKENING
259
A RACE AGAINST TIME
274
xxxvn THE REB VIEW OF IT
289
AND ALL THE WORLD WAS IN A SEA
302
LIGHT SHINETH IN DARKNESS
319
PRO BONO PUBLICO
327
PEACE IN WARSAW
335
L11 A FRIENDLY MEDIATION
345
L111 UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER
352
PRIDE OVERMATCHING PRIDE
365
WISDOM AND FOLLY MEET TOGETHER
375
HOME AT LAST
390
MONUMENTUM
403
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1961)

Albion W. Tourgee was born in Williamsfield, Ohio, in 1838, attended the University of Rochester, and saw intermittent action (1861-1863) in the Union Army during the Civil Way. After his discharge he studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1864, and when the war ended, he settled in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he soon rose to prominence, as judge and as outspoken opponent of the anti-Reconstructionists. He left the state in 1879. Among his published works are Toinette (1874), Figs and Thistles (1879), Bricks Without Straw (1880), John Eax (1882), and Hot Plowshares (1883). He died in 1903 while serving as American consul in Bordeaux.

Bibliographic information