Reinventing the South: Versions of a Literary Region

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Before the Civil War, the South had a flourishing culture. In the dormant decades following the surrender at Appomattox, however, southerners devoted most of their energies to survival, neglecting such luxuries as literature. It was not until the 1920s that the South experienced a significant rebirth of literary activity.

Mark Royden Winchell’s book is divided into two sections. The first, entitled “The Nashville Renascence,” examines this resurgence of literature. This movement was partly an attempt to define or reinvent southern culture both socially and aesthetically, and the Fugitives and Agrarians were at the forefront. Essays in this section explore the political and social vision of the Agrarians; discuss prominent charter Agrarians John Gould Fletcher and Robert Penn Warren; and examine the influence the Fugitives and Agrarians have had on later southern literature, even into the twenty-first century.

The second section of the book, “The Lower South,” deals with writers outside the Nashville tradition, including William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams, as well as two novelists who combine elements of southern and western regionalism—William Humphrey and Cormac McCarthy. All of these figures belong to a “lower South,” a region unrelated to the Nashville literati and with an audience less insistently highbrow.

Winchell’s thoughtful and well-informed book includes the most extensive discussions to date of the work of Monroe K. Spears and Walter Sullivan. The essays in this cohesive collection build upon one another to demonstrate how the literary imagination can create different visions of a regional culture and different versions of a regional myth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Chapter by chapter, and indeed sentence by sentence, these essays are splendidly written—mercifully free of contemporary critical jargon and easily accessible to the good and serious reader. There is the steady pilot light of high intelligence joining wit, good humor, and common sense to make the reading experience altogether worthwhile, a pleasant experience.”—George Garrett, author of Southern Excursions: Views on Southern Letters in My Time
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826216182
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: index
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Royden Winchell is Professor of English and Director of the Great Works of Western Civilization program at Clemson University. He is the author of several books, including “Too Good to Be True”: The Life and Work of Leslie Fiedler and Where No Flag Flies: Donald Davidson and the Southern Resistance, both available from the University of Missouri Press.

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Table of Contents

1 This land is your land 3
2 Arkansas traveler 10
3 Renaissance man 22
4 The legacy of Monroe K. Spears 42
5 Incarnate words 76
6 "What they have to say about us" 104
7 The Faulkner wars 127
8 Family values in Go down, Moses 134
9 Why Streetcar keeps running 161
10 Come back to the locker room ag'in, Brick honey! 176
11 The achievement of William Humphrey 189
12 Scum of the Earth 223
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