Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 10:38:19 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: The ephemeral Mudville

At 09:38 AM 12/16/97 EST, you wrote:

I suspect we really are trying too hard. This quest has all the earmarks of

the perennial dispute on about which Springfield the writers

of "The Simpsons" are "really" situating the weekly cartoon show in; every

week or so various posters chime in with new clues based on that week's

episode. I would imagine that similarly there is no true Mudville per se--as

Alan suggests, a general rather than specific label. --Larry

Right -- but I'm not sure who the "we" would be since I don't know that

anyone on this list is supporting the idea there is a "real" Mudville. I

believe that several people not on this list favor certain hypotheses:

Robert Smith of the Boston Globe as cited by Gerald Cohen supports Mass.; a

sportswriter friend anonymously cited by Gerald Cohen supports Stockton, CA;

and Martin Gardner's _Annotated Casey_ as cited by Alan Baragona supports

(or at least reports) a putative Mudville in Kansas.

My sense (absent really strong proof to the contrary) would be that

"Mudville" is intentionally general and fictional, like "Lake Wobegon" -- or

"Springfield," another deliberately generic name (wish I'd thought of that

one). Such names are chosen either for how common they are (Springfield) or

for how over-the-top they are (who would ever name a place "Lake Wobegon" in

real life?). Mudville may in fact be in the latter category: there may have

been people who referred to some town or another sarcastically as Mudville,

but I don't know that it was ever a formal town-name. Somebody who was

interested in that would have to check the 1895 (or some other later-19th

cent.) atlas. Of course, there *were* some fairly outrageous local names

before the Post Office got on people's cases in the late 19th cent. -- e.g.,

Hell Town, VA was supposedly renamed Temperanceville, and lots of cases like

that (some probably historically accurate, and others not).

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]