Cuts a feminist swath through orthodox readings of southern literature. "Distinguished. . . . These
essays reclaim women's traditions which have been neglected by critics who ought to have known
better." -- Kathryn Lee Seidel, author of The Southern Belle in the American Novel
This case study in cultural mythmaking shows how antebellum Alabama created itself out of its own printed texts, from treatises on law and history to satire, poetry, and domestic novels.
Early 19th-century Alabama was a society still in the making. Now Philip Beidler tells how the first books written and published in the state influenced the formation of Alabama's literary and political culture. As Beidler shows, virtually overnight early Alabama found itself in possession of the social, political, and economic conditions required to jump start a traditional literary culture in the old Anglo-European model: property-based class relationships, large concentrations of personal wealth, and professional and merchant classes of similar social, political, educational, and literary views.
Beidler examines the work of well-known writers such as humorist Johnson J. Hooper and novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, and takes on other classic pieces like Albert J. Pickett's History of Alabama and Alexander Beaufort Meek's epic poem The Red Eagle. Beidler also considers lesser-known works like Lewis B. Sewall's verse satire The Adventures of Sir John Falstaff the II, Henry Hitchcock's groundbreaking legal volume Alabama Justice of the Peace, and Octavia Walton Levert's Souvenirs of Travel. Most of these works were written by and for society's elite, and although many celebrate the establishment of an ordered way of life, they also preserve the biases of authors who refused to write about slavery yet continually focused on the extermination of Native Americans.
First Books returns us to the world of early Alabama that these texts not only recorded but helped create. Written with flair and a strong individual voice, it will appeal not only to scholars of Alabama history and literature but also to anyone interested in the antebellum South.
Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” and “Persian Poetry,” less well known are the many pages in his private journals devoted to the relationship between writing and reading. Here, for the first time, is the Concord Sage’s energetic, exuberant, and unconventional advice on the idea of writing, focused and distilled by the preeminent Emerson biographer at work today.
Emerson advised that “the way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” First We Read, Then We Write contains numerous such surprises—from “every word we speak is million-faced” to “talent alone cannot make a writer”—but it is no mere collection of aphorisms and exhortations. Instead, in Robert Richardson’s hands, the biographical and historical context in which Emerson worked becomes clear. Emerson’s advice grew from his personal experience; in practically every moment of his adult life he was either preparing to write, trying to write, or writing. Richardson shows us an Emerson who is no granite bust but instead is a fully fleshed, creative person disarmingly willing to confront his own failures. Emerson urges his readers to try anything—strategies, tricks, makeshifts—speaking not only of the nuts and bolts of writing but also of the grain and sinew of his determination. Whether a writer by trade or a novice, every reader will find something to treasure in this volume. Fearlessly wrestling with “the birthing stage of art,” Emerson’s counsel on being a reader and writer will be read and reread for years to come.
For half a century Lydia Maria Child was a household name in the United States. Hardly a sphere of nineteenth-century life can be found in which Lydia Maria Child did not figure prominently as a pathbreaker. Although best known today for having edited Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, she pioneered almost every department of nineteenth-century American letters—the historical novel, the short story, children’s literature, the domestic advice book, women’s history, antislavery fiction, journalism, and the literature of aging. Offering a panoramic view of a nation and culture in flux, this innovative cultural biography (originally published by Duke University Press in 1994) recreates the world as well as the life of a major nineteenth-figure whose career as a writer and social reformer encompassed issues central to American history.
Flannery O Connor: A Life
Jean W. Cash University of Tennessee Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3565.C57Z624 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Flannery O’Connor (1925–1964) ranks among the foremost writers of fiction in American literature. Her short stories, in particular, are considered models of the form. Born in Savannah, O’Connor spent most of her life in Georgia and infused her work with southern characters, themes, and landscapes. A devout Catholic, she addressed the mystery of God’s grace in everyday life, often amid the grotesque, the shocking, and the violent. In this first full-length biography of the writer, Jean W. Cash draws upon extensive interviews with O’Connor’s friends, relatives, teachers, and colleagues as well as on the writer’s voluminous correspondence to provide a sensitive, balanced portrait of a fascinating woman.
As Cash demonstrates, O’Connor’s sheltered childhood, extraordinary intellect, spiritual certainty, and unique personality—including a wry sense of humor—combined not only to make her something of an outsider but also to foster her literary genius. As a child, her favorite activities were reading, writing stories, and drawing. Perhaps more unusual was her childhood feat of teaching a rooster to walk backwards. Her passion for exotic fowl later found expression in the peacock symbolism in her fiction.
The family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1938, and there O’Connor attended high school and college. She left the South in 1945 and entered the graduate writing program at the University of Iowa, where she completed several chapters of her first novel, Wise Blood. She went on to live at the Yaddo writers’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, and she might have spent her most creative years in the North if illness had not interfered. However, lupus—the same disease that had killed her father—forced her to return to Milledgeville, where she lived and wrote for the remaining fourteen years of her life under the protective care of her mother.
The latter chapters of Cash’s biography address O’Connor’s adjustment to her debilitating illness and to a more circumscribed existence. As Cash explains, she learned to accommodate her mother’s insular outlook, and in many ways her fiction profited artistically during this period. Her friendships and active correspondence added to the variety and vitality of her life. She also traveled widely on the lecture circuit and reviewed books for a local Catholic publication. Even in her illness and relative isolation in Milledgeville, O’Connor continued to live a richly rewarding and creative life.
The Author: Jean W. Cash is professor of English at James Madison University.
Rarely has an individual's life been so inseparable from his writing as was Randolph Bourne's. His work reveals not only his political viewpoints but also his humanistic personality and the tumultuous era during which he lived. Forgotten Prophet carefully examines the intellect and personality of the "born essayist" who saw clearly both his century's potential for harmony and the danger that it faced from the lingering tides of nineteenth-century European nationalism.
Disfigured and hunchbacked, Bourne reacted to his disability not with bitterness or self-pity, but rather with an exuberant love for beauty and a compassion for humanity that created in him a longing for a truly cosmopolitan society—a "trans-national America" that would draw its strength from ethnic diversity and political pluralism. Nearly alone among American intellectuals, Bourne actively denounced involvement in World War I. He foresaw that, beyond the horrible cost in young lives, the war would bring in its wake the spiritual impoverishment of the nation and the disillusionment of its youth; it would strangle reform and social tolerance, exacerbate racism and nativism, and plant the seeds for further international instability. Although derided and largely ignored at the time they were written, Bourne's fearful predictions would all too quickly be confirmed in the dissolute frenzy of the jazz age, the turmoil of the 1930s, and the social chaos that brought about the rise of fascism in Europe and, soon, an even more destructive war.
Bourne did not live to witness this terrifying unfolding of events. His career as a social critic was brief but prolific. When he died in 1918 at the age of thirty-two, a victim of the flu epidemic, he had completed three books and more than a hundred essays. His first book, Youth and Life, is considered by some to be the original manifesto of the counterculture. From his earliest years as a writer, Bourne was identified as a voice for youth, idealism, and progress in human relations. Forgotten Prophet characterizes Bourne not just as a foreseer of this century's bloodshed but, equally important, as an apostle of hope—a champion of what was best, most truthful in the arts, in politics, and in the conduct of our daily lives.
Fred in Love
Felice Picano University of Wisconsin Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3566.I25Z465 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the early 1970s, when he was still an aspiring, unpublished writer, Felice Picano began a remarkable relationship with an extraordinary animal: a days-old kitten slated for euthanasia who refused to perish. Rescued, named, and trained, Fred became an extraordinarily intelligent companion, ally, teacher, and constant wonder to the author as he began his ascent through the Bohemian circles of Greenwich Village, among musicians, actors, curious characters, and even the famous British actress in hiding right next door.
But when an acquaintance brought his female cat to be serviced by Fred, an entire new set of experiences opened up for the cat-and for Picano, who'd never had the nerve to befriend her owner, his ideal man. The course of love seldom runs straight for cats or for men, and this time would prove (hilariously) no different.
This is another of Picano's distinguished portraits of a vanished era, when a new gay domain was solidifying only a few years after the Stonewall Riots, and the still nascent gay literary world that Picano would help invent was just a conception. Fred in Love is a charming, nostalgic, funny, gossipy, involving, and ultimately enlightening story about how we learn and grow, and how we love-whether the object of our affection is a cat or another human being. It's sure to take its place next to Picano's now classic literary memoirs Ambidextrous, Men Who Loved Me, and A House on the Ocean, a House on the Bay.
Michael Page University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3566.O36Z83 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
One of science fiction's undisputed grandmasters, Frederik Pohl built an astonishing career that spanned more than seven decades. Along the way he won millions of readers and seemingly as many awards while producing novels, short stories, and essays that left a profound mark on the genre. In this first-of-its-kind study, Michael R. Page traces Pohl's journey as an author but also uncovers his role as a transformative figure who shaped the genre as a literary agent, book editor, and in Gardner Dozois' words, "quite probably the best SF magazine editor who ever lived."