Twentieth-Century Southern Literature / Edition 1

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Authors discussed include: Wendell Berry, Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Shelby Foote, Zora Neal Hurston, Bobbie Ann Mason, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O'Connor, William Styron, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Wolfe, Richard Wright, and many more.

By World War II, the Southern Renaissance had established itself as one of the most significant literary events of the century, and today much of the best American fiction is southern fiction. Though the flowering of realistic and local-color writing during the first two decades of the century was a sign of things to come, the period between the two world wars was the crucial one for the South's literary development: a literary revival in Richmond came to fruition; at Vanderbilt University a group of young men produced The Fugitive, a remarkable, controversial magazine that published some of the century's best verse in its brief run; and the publication and widespread recognition of Faulkner (among others) inaugurated the great flood of southern writing that was to follow in novels, short stories, poetry, and plays.

With more than forty years of experience writing and reading about the subject, and friendships with many of the figures discussed, J. A. Bryant is uniquely qualified to provide the first comprehensive account of southern American literature since 1900. Bryant pays attention to both the cultural and the historical context of the works and authors discussed, and presents the information in an enjoyable, accessible style. No lover of great American literature can afford to be without this book.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An encyclopedic review that covers not only such major figures as Walker Percy and William Styron but also considers John Barth as a Southern writer and gives welcome attention to Reynolds Price, Harry Crews, and Cormac McCarthy." -- American Literary Scholarship

"With a fresh outlook on individual writers and an infectious enthusiasm, the author traces 'what led up to the South's extraordinary flowering.'... Bryant's scope extends well beyond Faulkner to include many other major and even some minor gods in the pantheon, giving this book a compelling comprehensiveness." -- Booklist

"Very sensibly organized, very sensible organized, very clearly written, and very humane in its overall approach." -- Bowling Green Daily News

"J.A. Bryant has filled the need for such a work in one concise, well-written volume." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Bryant has given the many readers of modern southern literature a valuable scholarly and critical work that may well become a classic in its field" -- Georgia Historical Quarterly

"A reader can hardly work though this book without being impressed by the number of writers covered." -- Kitikon Litterarum

"For the reader interested in a bird's-eye view of the major figures and trends in Southern literature, this work will be a welcome resource." -- Publishers Weekly

"An engaging (and staggeringly comprehensive but marvelously succinct) book that quietly but unmistakably takes its stand against two increasingly visible trends in southern literary study." -- Sewanee Review

"A keen reminder of novels, stories, and poems that you know you must read or read again." -- The Georgia Review

"An exceptional overview of the last hundred years of Southern writing." -- Virginia Quarterly Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Writing from his experience as a professor of American and English literature at the University of Kentucky, Bryant has compiled here a thorough guidehe calls it a "primer"to the literary output of 20th-century Southerners. From this premise, Bryant is able to include writers like Ralph Ellison, James Agee and William Styron who migrated north but whose works nonetheless both inform and are informed by the regional experience of the South. In more or less chronological order, Bryant leads the reader from the early plantation fiction with its idealized notions of the Old South, through the various movements centered around Vanderbilt Universitythe Fugitives, the Agrarians and the New Criticismall of which contributed greatly to the mid-century "Southern Renaissance," and beyond to a broad discussion of postmodern and contemporary writers. Special attention is given to major writers such as Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Shelby Foote and Robert Penn Warren, whom Bryant designates as "the supreme summary figure of the century," but the book also incorporates and draws connections between lesser-known writers or those whose one-time significance has since faded. Well organized with subchapters devoted to African American writers, women writers, playwrights, poets and critics, the book includes a good deal of background and biographical information. What the book offers in breadth of scope, however, it lacks in details such as quotations from the literature discussed or Bryant's own insights. Nonetheless, for the reader interested in a bird's-eye view of the major figures and trends in Southern literature, this work will be a welcome resource. (Nov.) FYI: Also due in October are Southern Writers with photos by David G. Spielman, text by William W. Starr (Univ. of S. Carolina $24.95 160p ISBN 1-57003-224-6; Oct.) and The Literature of the American South: Vol. II (Norton, $29.95 1060p ISBN 0-393-31671-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813109374
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 8/14/2009
  • Series: New Perspectives on the South Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

J. A. Bryant Jr., professor emeritus of English at the University of Kentucky, is the author of Shakespeare and the Uses of Comedy and Hippolyta's View.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Development of Modern Southern Fiction 11
2 Poetry and Politics at Vanderbilt, 1920-40 38
3 The New Emphasis on Craftsmanship 61
4 Two Major Novelists 74
5 Southern Playwrights 87
6 The Beginning of Recognition 103
7 Southern Regionalism Comes of Age 117
8 Women Extend Fiction's Range 137
9 The New Black Writers 155
10 The South After World War II 167
11 Postwar Poetry 176
12 Mainstream Fiction 196
13 The New Major Writers 208
14 Three Key Figures 226
15 Robert Penn Warren 248
Bibliographical Note 261
Index 271
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