By Richard H. King
A research of a massive cultural flow, this article indicates how Southern writers of 1930 to 1955 attempted to return to phrases with Southern culture. It discusses the ensuing physique of important literature - fiction, poetry, memoirs and ancient writing.
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Extra info for A Southern Renaissance: The Cultural Awakening of the American South, 1930-1955
Thus the modes of historical consciousness which emerged in the 19305 and 19405 were manifestations of the ambivalent spirit of cultural modernism. The prototypical historical consciousness A SOUTHERN RENAISSANCE 1Q of the modern period is obsessed with the past and the precarious possibilities of its survival. In addition, the preoccupation with the past among Southern writers and intellectuals in this period was typically Southern. Still, they were by no means united in their attitudes toward the past in general or toward the family romance in particular.
Also in the absence of its traditional authorizations, present authority may degenerate into the application of violence which in turn provokes counterviolence. "28 Certainly of the rehashing of old verities there was no end in the 19305. One thinks here of the Agrarians or of William Alexander Percy. Calling upon the past to aid the present, they attempted to revitalize the tradition by turning it into a conservative, even reactionary ideology. Some, like Percy, realized that the tradition could not be revitalized in any binding, collective way and that it had become "merely" a personal code by which they could at least live.
Slavery placed the South on the defensive in the modern world. From its early cosmopolitanism, the South after 1830 increasingly turned inward, developing a siege mentality to justify itself and its essential institutions. Under attack from the outside, the region came to see THE SOUTHEKN FAMILY ROMANCE AND ITS CONTEXT 21 itself as different from the rest of the United States. e. 2 In the planter ideology, leisure was valued over hard work; the cultivation of the social graces and hospitality was preferred to the pursuit of the main chance; a patriarchal hierarchical society came to seem preferable to an egalitarian one; the agrarian way of life was preferred to the urban, industrial sort.