In this volume Cleanth Brooks pays tribute to the language and literature of the American South. He writes of the language's unique syntax and its celebrated languorous rhythms; of the classical allusions and Addisonian locutions once favored by the gentry; and of the more earthbound eloquence, rooted in the dialect of England's southern lowlands, that is still heard in the speech of the region's plain folk.
It is this rich spoken language, Brooks suggests, that has always been the life blood of southern writing. The strong tradition of storytelling in the South is reflected in the tales told by Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus and in the obsessive retellings that structure William Faulkner's novels and stories. But even more crucially, the language of the South--firmly rooted in the land but with a tendency to reach for the heavens above--has shaped the literary concerns and molded the complex visions to be found in the poetry of Robert Penn Warren and John Crowe Ransom; the stories of Flannery O'Connor, Peter Taylor, and Eudora Welty; and the novels of Warren, Allen Tate, and Walker Percy.