Manual Inventing Southern Literature

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The double structures are designed to highlight the gap between simple and "peculiar" or exotic folk, colorful and sympathetic though they may be, and the educated, realistic, framing voice that the reader has no choice but to accept as a higher authority. Herein the pastoral tension between the sophisticated man of the world who takes the backward glance and the rural rustic who has been left behind meet within a dual and dueling narrative structure.

White women writers often promoted the same white paternalism Sherwood Bonner in her Dialect Tales , Grace King in stories such as those collected in Balcony Stories , Eugenia Jones Bacon in Lyddy , and Ruth McEnery Stuart in In Simpkinsville , yet they were much less likely to create the remote, outside narrative voice and often used dialect to achieve less patronizing, more flexible versions of life in community.

As we will see below, some white writers and many African American writers during this period adapted local color trappings to literature which set itself against the conservative political agenda of traditional Local Colorists. Southern Civil War literature is distinctive primarily because of its tendency to deal not only, or even primarily, with the conditions of the — war but with the whole fabric of the society that preceded it.

Yet the most enduring southern fiction produced to cover the historical scope of the Civil War is that of twentieth century writers whose works display some version of pastoral. Thus they incorporate, with varying degrees of both longing and irony, detailed visions of plantation life on the eve of the conflict. What is emphasized in the "before the War" sections of such works is the image of the South as a traditional society, securing individuals within sustaining constructions of family and community. Unlike Crane and Bierce, these writers, although differing in technique and artistic as well as political vision, nevertheless begin with the presumption that they must look back as Gordon's title ironically warns against.

For them the Civil War is not a cataclysm set apart from lives contained within community scrutiny, social obligation, and family interaction. The southern works listed above gather families into prescribed rituals as a kind of prerequisite to any dramatization of war.

In other words, their conception of war places it within a set of social realities, not apart from them. These works also follow the pastoral in its double thematics: one track setting up the simpler life of antebellum plantation society as a more healthful, life-sustaining time and the other warning that memorializing the past distorts it, while enshrining the past overpowers the present. This reading of the threat implied in the pastoral is the theme of Allen Tate's poem " Ode to the Confederate Dead " The most brilliant Civil War novel North or South is one that defies genre classifications but one that retains the southern groupings' emphasis on human relationships beyond as well as within war.

Evelyn Scott created in The Wave an immense kaleidoscopic epic of lives thrown into chaos through the disorder of war. Its title image indicates the rising and breaking, overpowering force of unchecked emotions that her disconnected, character sketch structure also reflects. The narrative consists of over one hundred separate but interlocking vignettes recording the workings of individual consciousness, from actual generals and President Lincoln, down to anonymous foot soldiers, children, widows, deserters, and lovers.

Two acclaimed recent examples resist geographical as well genre categorization.

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Set as they are in the western North Carolina mountains and the borderland of Missouri, respectively, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Paulette Jiles's Enemy Women , like Scott's The Wave , foreground human nature and lives rooted in elemental social contexts without grinding the pastoral theme of the past's tyranny over the present. In , Robert Penn Warren , speaking at a reunion of the Fugitive poets who had banded together at Vanderbilt University in the s, said, "The Past is always a rebuke to the Present. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, , xiii. The Fugitives —Warren, John Crowe Ransom , Allen Tate , and Donald Davidson chief among them—became modern spokesmen for southern agrarianism not only in their poetry, but also in biography, fiction, and literary as well as social criticism.

Yet as Warren's reunion comments indicate, the past envisioned can be a rebuke to the present, but is not an agenda for the future. Warren himself had broken with the Southern Agrarian movement's conservative racial politics by the s, and today their image of the South is often attacked as the construction of a southern male elite promoting a segregationist ideal as a false "Golden Age.

From the beginning, literature written within the perspective of southern agrarianism exalted the genteel conception of the farmer and his connection to the land as the means of his enjoying the good life. As Thomas Jefferson put it in a letter to General Washington, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.

Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground , Elizabeth Madox Roberts's The Time of Man , Julia Peterkin's novels of African American rural life in South Carolina Scarlet Sister Mary , , and the stories collected in Katherine Ann Porter 's The Old Order express an often mystical sense of their characters' relationship to the earth—not the typical objectification of woman as earth but woman as a source of sustenance and energy.

Wendell Berry 's essays over thirty years have become influential agrarian statements that are now seen as counter-arguments to current endorsements of a globalist philosophy. Modernism as a literary category in the United States designates patterns of mind and style as well as a relationship to the historical period of the early s through World War II. Modernist artistic expression reflects the historically marked pressures of the early twentieth century: the disintegration or serious compromise of many forms of authority religious, governmental, gendered ; the development of technologies and intellectual frameworks that changed thinking about time, space, physical being, and consciousness feedback from the work of Darwin, Edison, Freud, the Wright Brothers etc.

In the South, a new generation of writers absorbed these shocks and set themselves the task of interpreting the ramifications for traditional assumptions about their place within a conservative, southern society. They understood the need for new literary techniques, new ways of using language and organizing narrative, in order to deal with new questions about how to render, even where to look for, reality. While African Americans and both African American and white women writers had different vantage points on the radical changes taking place in the South, many writers, regardless of race or gender, were inclined to combine pastoral thematics with modernist technical innovations.


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William Faulkner's novels of Yoknapatawpha give classic expression to the underlying pastoral emphasis of much of the southern writing that addressed modernist issues. Faulkner found innovative linguistic and structural ways to access the past in order to dramatize the modern southerner's loss of traditional avenues of knowledge and his search for viable forms of order. The pastoral invocation of the past involves the idea of time as enemy time synonymous with the sterile mechanics of motion, with chronology as a tyrannical absolute of order, and with death.

Faulkner wrote novels that dealt definitively with modern man's and sometimes woman's disconnection from nature and memory, with the loss of faith in God or tradition, and with alienation from any sustaining conception of community.

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Other white writers, particularly Robert Penn Warren in All the King's Men , Eudora Welty in her many novels and short stories, Walker Percy in The Last Gentleman , and James Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men , used similar modernist narrative techniques, particularly the brooding, interiorized first-person consciousness fragmented into multiple points of view and disruptions of chronological time. Neither of these African American writers in any way glosses over the racial oppression associated with the southern rural landscape, but both assert that a search for inheritance and sustenance within a southern past is essential to the attainment of full identity.

Southern women of the early twentieth century, African American and white, might be expected to have had problems finding empowerment within the context of images of land and traditional order. Yet from Kate Chopin and Ellen Glasgow as transitional figures of great importance, to Hurston, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Eudora Welty, Katherine Ann Porter , and Harriet Arnow, southern women writers have returned to, revised, and revitalized the meaning of women's relationship to the land and to tradition.

For much of the twentieth century, critical focus within southern literary study has emphasized constructions of white elite experience within one rigidly controlled and controlling domain: the world of the plantation owners and their modern class descendants who manipulated state houses and social registers through economic privilege. Their stories, both in triumph and in loss, were considered the story, and their canon, so designated through dozens of literary studies and anthologies, conveyed a white male conservative reading of what mattered in the South.

Just as strong, however, is a southern tradition of counter-pastoral literature. These works are by place-identified writers who have nonetheless written with a sense of disfranchisement and a will to criticize, not by constructing idealized myths of a romantic or tragic past but by confronting falsely based narratives of dominance. Their counter-narratives present many souths , as places of experience, not privileged artifacts of memory.

As early as , one of the South's most privileged storytellers, William Byrd , writing in The History of the Dividing Line of how he and his team surveyed the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, identified a different kind of line, one that separates southern counter-pastoral writing from the more elitist agrarian and pastoral genres. As he mockingly described the non-slave and non-landholding North Carolinians below "the line," Byrd in his description of "Lubberland" opened a space for a long tradition of southern works that offer an unruly version the South's inhabitants and manners.

Like the literatures of slavery, the South's counter-pastoral literatures revise the dividing lines for the reading of southern cultures. The South's counter-pastoral literatures create characters who subvert privilege based on race, class, gender or pride of place.

As we have seen, some southern writers harnessed the pastoral genre's focus on a traditional past in order to express fear of change or frustration with the complexities of the present. One important strain of counter-pastoral writing answered this longing by harnessing the genre's equal potential for irony to expose the blindness or self-serving motives of the master class.

Mark Twain 's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn stands as perhaps southern literature's most compelling work of counter-pastoral. Southwestern humorists were pioneers of counter-pastoral literature who debunked notions of class privilege upon which much southern pastoral has been constructed. This rowdy genre gave Twain some of his most useful models for contesting the emerging white racist power structure of Post-Reconstruction. Using subversive trickster humor, the southwestern humorists of antebellum times displaced the traditional gentleman, supplanting him not with a counter-ideal but with rugged, sometimes openly anarchist anti-heroes.

Counter-pastoral realists of the twentieth century rejected myths of a "usable past" as they confronted urgent contemporary problems set within everyday dimensions of space and time. Their works present competing versions of the roots of southern culture that challenge the modernist tendency to privilege historical consciousness over social conscience. These southern literatures are not conceived as "acts of memory" involved in "recovering" the Past.


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  8. Instead such works emphasize locating and questioning realities in the present, starting with the question of whose stories are actually being lived in heterogeneous souths, the souths acclaimed by C. When one finds the rich veins of literature that exist beyond the plantation South and beyond the experience of white privilege, the South becomes multi-dimensional in several respects. A variety of southern regions appear as important sites of economic and social organization. New kinds of characters are presented as positive figures: the African American school teacher, the redneck truck driver, the poor white single mother become subjects and voices instead of objects or hapless victims.

    The counter-pastoral novel zeroes in on the social change by portraying characters predominantly within plots of economic struggle. In some even more estranged counter-narratives, writers' visions of multiple are produced from surreal distortions of traditional place and gentrified characters. The Gothic horrors of the southern-born Poe, the outrageous exaggerations of the antebellum southern humorists, the grotesque bodies of post-Renascence writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Lewis Nordan, and Randall Kenan take center stage in these assertions of myriad souths against the "chosen" South of one literary tradition.

    Mark Twain's Huck Finn is southern literature's poster boy for counter-pastoral.

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    He has no "truck" with what has been called "the party of the past. His backward glance is taken through the eyes of a child who exists uneasily on the margins of a supposedly idyllic village. His ambivalence is traced satirically in his relations on the one hand with Jim , a slave, and on the other with several varieties of white communities. By the time that Twain wrote Pudd'nhead Wilson in , even Huck's mild pastoral meditations, dreamy reflections made as he floats briefly out of time with Jim on the river, have been banished. Pudd'nhead Wilson confronts the absurd final consequences of white southern racist order.

    Several other southern writers of the s and 90s also wrote against the mythologizing currents of much " New South " writing in counter-pastoral fiction that utilized many of the staples noted above of local color. Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman , with its intricate frame narration, allows the black former slave narrator Uncle Julius to undercut all the nostalgic functions that the faithful retainer type performed for pastoral writers such as Joel Chandler Harris and Thomas Nelson Page.

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    Uncle Julius, in rich vernacular dialect, critiques the white racist and class assumptions of the outside frame narrator, John. His conjure stories are set before the Civil War, but Chesnutt looks at the slavery era not to idealize the past, but to offer analogies between the brutal governance of slaveholders and the racist political assumptions and policies of the present, North and South. George Washington Cable in The Grandissimes more directly attacked racial prejudice through mulatto characters negotiating the complex color lines of New Orleans, a metropolitan region that offers an extreme version of caste, class, and race politics.

    Kate Chopin and Grace King also depicted mulatto characters who transgress the illogically racialized social structures of New Orleans, as did the African American writer Alice Dunbar-Nelson. DuBois in Souls of Black Folk , as well as Chesnutt in The Marrow of Tradition especially , made the South a site synonymous with racial violence and injustice. A masterwork of twentieth century African American fiction, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God , can also be seen as counter-pastoral, especially in its construction of a very different mythology out of the oral folk culture of African Americans.

    The southwest as a regional literary imaginary has its boundary wherever the southern backwoods begins to meet the outer edges of civilization. The tales of this genre belong not to what we now know geographically as the Southwest e. Arizona and New Mexico but to the southern frontier , which might be western Mississippi, or any sparsely settled section of Alabama, Tennessee, or middle Georgia, wherever regulated society had not yet taken root.

    When Johnson Jones Hooper 's con man protagonist Captain Simon Suggs comments in Some Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs that it is "good to be shifty in a new country," he identifies the imaginative landscape of southwestern humor. It is the "new" place that gives the lie to the ideal of the "Old" South as place distinguished by tradition, history, manners, and law. The nineteenth century humorists were usually men of education and urbanity writing for popular men's magazines. In their unruly representations, a man can lose his nose in a fight in Augustus Baldwin Longstreet 's Georgia Scenes ; transplanted Virginians trying to "lord" over others in frontier communities are routinely victimized by sharper drifters with no pedigrees in Joseph Glover Baldwin 's Flush Times in Alabama and Missisippi ; a phony preacher can be conned by an even phonier convert in Hooper's Captain Simon Suggs ; a lowlife of the first order named Sut Lovingood can victimize innocent bystanders simply because he is feeling out of sorts in George Washington Harris 's Sut Lovingood Yarns The southwestern humor tales satirize many elements of antebellum plantation fiction through tricksters who in their disdain for the classic virtues hold up an ironic, inverted mirror to slave-holding society and its hypocrisies.

    The stories contain exaggeration of both speech and incident, while their protagonists both critique and subvert the dominant power structure. At their most violent or absurd, the tales of the genre offer versions of anarchy that seem especially to target preoccupations with social class. The poor white challenges any class claim to superiority. In the world of hunting, horse-swap, yarn-spinning, and woman-bashing that marks the genre, the condescension of the gentleman or dandy is no match for the resentment and the amorality of an unaccommodated breed of backwoodsman.

    Although southwestern humor tales have long been considered a male genre, in part because of their popularity in men's sporting journals , southern women also took to this form, generally somewhat later and within the generic conventions of local color. Idora McClellan Plowman Moore , recently given new attention by scholar Kathryn McKee, wrote comic sketches for southern newspapers — that clearly belong to the southwestern humor tradition, especially in her use of poor white storyteller Betsy Hamilton.

    When the South was identified by President Franklin Roosevelt as America's " number one " economic problem in the s, southern writers were already responding to the realities of the rural and industrial poor with fiction that has often been included in categories of " Social Realism ," "The Protest Novel," or the "Proletarian Novel. A genre of "problem" literature incorporates these factors into its dramatic treatment of poverty and injustice.

    Writers in this group stake out resistance specifically to agrarian and pastoral literatures that gloss over racism and the suffering of sharecropping farm families in their attempt to associate the good life with idealizations of the past or life lived close to nature. Stribling was an early pioneer of southern problem literature who belonged to what was known as the " revolt from the village " school associated more with northern and midwestern writers such as Sinclair Lewis. Erskine Caldwell was probably the most visible but also most controversial of the "problem" novelists in the s, scoring with sensationalist, grotesque portrayals of poor whites in fiction such as Tobacco Road but also with a more realistic, sympathetic photo-documentary text with Margaret Bourke-White , You Have Seen Their Faces Very different from the outside observer Caldwell was Harry Kroll , who in a non-fiction account, I Was a Share-Cropper , and in novels such as The Cabin in the Cotton approached poor white tenant farming from his own experience.

    Richard Wright in Uncle Tom's Children and Black Boy also experienced firsthand some of what he shows in this collection of short stories: the doubly brutalizing existence that poor blacks endured in the rural South. Probably the earliest novel to focus on poor whites was Edith Summers Kelley 's Weeds , a naturalistic study of Kentucky tobacco farming.

    Her position points to an interesting aspect of southern problem literature, the relatively high number of women writers who turned to its resistance format.

    Margaret Mitchell 's Gone With the Wind was a brilliant version of the modern historical romance form that many women, nation-wide, were successfully mastering. Still, many southern women writers moved away from this traditional women's market. Lillian Smith in her novel Strange Fruit and her eloquent, confessional autobiography Killers of the Dream took a courageous stand against segregation.

    Resistance autobiographies like Smith's that concentrate on the "problem" of class and race discrimination have been a special province of southern women writers. They represent experiences that cross these divisions, from Katherine Du Pre Lumpkin 's The Making of a Southerner , charting a white woman's growing distance from an upper-class family's paternalistic racism, to Anne Moody 's Coming of Age in Mississippi , describing a black girl's adolescence in an impoverished rural household, and from Ellen Douglas's Truth: Four Stories I am Finally Old Enough to Tell , concerning her middle class family's racist past, to Linda Flowers 's firsthand account, in Throwed Away , of growing up in a sharecropping family.

    Southern women writers were also frontrunners in treating the urban, industrial South in the s. Harriette Arnow 's The Dollmaker brought an Appalachian woman writer's viewpoint to the issue of the effects of industrialization on rural families through her story of a displaced Kentucky family during World War II.

    In another southern woman writer, Harper Lee , published what is probably the modern South's most popular novel of social protest, To Kill a Mockingbird. Contemporary writers such as Harry Crews in A Childhood: The Biography of a Place and Dorothy Allison in Bastard Out of Carolina deal with the experience of poor whites in graphic ways that in some respects makes them southern problem naturalists, but in others allies them with the genre of the Southern Grotesque.

    Often the terms Gothic and Grotesque are interchanged when applied to the South the only place to which both rubrics have been consistently applied as literary denominators. Writers of southern Gothic or Grotesque combine comic or obscene exaggeration with sometimes gratuitous violence, often within representations of physical deformity or sexual deviance.

    The Grotesque genre in southern literature begins with southern-born Edgar Allan Poe , whose radical experience of repression and alienation in his case, alienation from the upperclass Richmond society of his adoptive father is reflected in the nightmare landscapes that appear in his fiction. His gothic works of horror appeared around the same time as southwestern humor writing, and as different as the two genres might seem, they share elements of distortion and displacement, gratuitous violence, and outrageous hostility. Possibly these similar traits represent a kindred response to the stultifying effects of traditional antebellum plantation society, which in a resistance view functioned only through blindness to the horrors inherent in slavery and through pretentious rituals of honor and obedience.

    His characters' obsession with control explodes into bizarre excesses and disfiguring disease. Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams apply different kinds of gothic effects in some of their works, often as they address alienation and disorder in modern southern settings. Yet the most interesting, and most radical inheritors of the Grotesque are women writers of the later modernist era, Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor , who developed this sensibility into very different strands. Their deformed, freakish, psychotic, or imbecilic female characters are inversions of the pure white southern woman, icon of the well-ordered universe of southern tradition.

    The dramas of Tennessee Williams and the stories of Truman Capote and Peter Taylor reflect this iconography of estrangement as well in physical, often sexual grotesqueries. If the South seems especially hospitable to such types, some scholars and writers speculate, it may be because its social codes have allowed so few avenues for the expression of disagreement or even confusion about the controlling norms.

    Flannery O'Connor's affinity for the grotesque is unique because her explanations and usages are tied to her firm sense of spiritual realities that southerners, she says, have always been more ready to acknowledge than other Americans. Her imagined South is defined as that "Christ-haunted landscape" in which characters can be forgiven anything except spiritual complacency. Epiphanies occur for O'Connor's ideal modern readers when they experience a sense of the uncanny translated for O'Connor into spiritual grace through the grotesque mode's combining of strange, often violent "discrepancies" or oppositions in plot, character or imagery.

    Following O'Connor, and deeply indebted to her, are several contemporary southern writers who are interested in her use of the Grotesque as a way to critique a stultifying, spiritually arid modern landscape. Cormac McCarthy , Harry Crews, Barry Hannah , Tim McLaurin , Lewis Nordan especially in Wolf Whistle and Larry Brown apply the principles of the Grotesque in works of fiction that often are considered under a separate rubric, that of " Grit Lit " not to be confused with the use of the term "Gritlit" for all of southern literature.

    Like O'Connor's grotesque comedies, some of these writers' works can be violently comic, while others are more likely to shock or repulse readers through raw portrayals of life at its grimmest. Grit Lit can chart the disintegration of characters bereft of dignity or hope but it can also call forth sympathy for forgotten lives and wasted promise. She also lectures locally and nationally on the culture of the Old South.

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    In winter , Southern Spaces updated this publication as part of the journal's redesign and migration to Drupal 7. Updates include a full collection of new images and text links, as well as revised recommended resources and related publications. For access to the original layout, paste this publication's url into the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine and view any version of the piece that predates January Andrews, William L. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, Beebee, Thomas O. Brinkmeyer, Robert H.

    Athens: University of Georgia Press, Fetterley, Judith, and Marjorie Pryse. Flora, Joseph P. MacKethan, eds. The Companion to Southern Literature. Gray, Richard. Guinn, Matthew. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, Heilman, Robert. Hobson, Fred, and Barbara Ladd, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Literature of the U. New York: Oxford University Press, Holman, C. Philip Castille and William Osborne. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, Inness, Sherrie A.

    Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, Jones, Anne Goodwyn, and Susan V. Haunted Bodies: Gender and Southern Texts. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Jones, Suzanne W. Kreyling, Michael. Inventing Southern Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, MacKethan, Lucinda H. Athens: Ohio University Press, Perry, Carolyn, and Mary Louise Weaks, eds. The History of Southern Women's Literature. Pratt, William, ed.

    Nashville, TN: J. Rieger, Christopher. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, Rubin, Louis D. Jacobs, Jr. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, The History of Southern Literature. Watson, Charles S. The History of Southern Drama. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, Yaeger, Patricia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Anti-Tom Literature.

    Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press. Bates, Karen Grigsby. August 25, Digital Library of Appalachia. Emory Women Writers Resource Project. Layson, Hana and Justine Murison. Popova, Maria. Schwarz, Benjamin. December Southern Literary Trail. Directed by Ross Spears and Devorah Cutler. James Agee Film Project. The University of Alabama. University of Mississippi. Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

    Skip to main content. Southern Spaces. Search form Search. Lucinda MacKethan. North Carolina State University. Introduction Booklover's Map of the United States , Map by Amy Jones. Edited and published by Thomas W. White, February, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Images are in the public domain. Reynold's political map of the United States , ca.

    Map created by William C. Reynolds and J. Genre: Similarity and Difference The selection of southern genres outlined in this overview indicates one more key element of the genre approach: genres classify works according to similarities, but they thrive and depend upon difference, not only differences in conventions and forms, but differences in the ways that groups within the same geographical places experience history.

    Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston , April 3, Photograph by Carl Van Vechten. Organizing by Genre: Scope and Limitations The cultures of several souths are embedded in literatures of slavery, literatures of pastoral, and literatures of resistance. Dave Smith, "Cornering the Southern Poem. Appalachian literature , Lexington, Kentucky, January 13, Photograph by Flickr user Sarah Altendorf. An early map of the Mason and Dixon line , Pennsylvania and Maryland border, Published by Robert Kennedy. Jewett and Company, Images in public domain. Title page of The Bondwoman's Narrative , ca. Manuscript by Hannah Crafts.

    Gouache painting by Marie Adrien Persac. Image is in public domain. Book by Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published by J. Book by Mary H. Photograph by Flickr user Brent Moore. Photograph by Flickr user Houari B. Oil painting by Thomas Cole. Garden plows and hand tools for gardens , Atlanta, Georgia, The Lost Cause , undated.

    From the polemical writings of the Agrarians to recent works of criticism, biography, literary history, and even film reviews, the established formula is repeated, the narrative of forgetting and making continued. It is not so much southern literature that changes in collision with history but history that is subtly changed in collision with southern literature. Inventing Southern Literature is, then, not a counternarrative that seeks to dynamite the rails on which the official narrative runs; rather, it is a metanarrative, touching upon crucial moments when and where the official narrative is made or problematically redirected.

    Readings of individual novels, when they occur in this work, are not intended primarily as acts of interpreta-. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview.