By Richard H. King
A examine of an important cultural circulation, 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 historic writing.
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Additional resources for A Southern Renaissance: The Cultural Awakening of the American South, 1930-1955
The plantation system, it turned out, could run quite well with "free" labor. In place of chattel slavery for blacks and freehold farming for middle-level and poorer whites came tenancy and sharecropping. If the small farmer did manage to hold onto his land in the grim years after 1865, he often was little better off than the sharecropper. He was caught in the "crop lien" system by which he mort- 22 A SOUTHERN RENAISSANCE gaged his crop to a merchant in exchange for a loan to see him through the coming year.
As seen in Faulkner's Quentin Compson of Absalom, Absalom! and in Tate's work, beginning with "Ode to the Confederate Dead" and culminating in The Fathers, this form of historical consciousness ends in a tragic confusion between past and present, fantasy and reality. Neither repetition nor recollection can triumph. What recollection reveals is the violence and horror at the heart of the tradition itself, or its weakness and contradictions. Time becomes an obsession, and the founding of the tradition and the costs thereby incurred are emphasized.
The black male was ideally a loyal figure of childlike wisdom and Christian charity, a wise and forgiving grandfather or naive, childlike retainer. Yet he might also be the "bad Nigger," the rapist and the insurrectionist, bent on exacting his blood lust from whites. D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, based on Thomas Dixon's The Clansman, and again Gone with the Wind present both of these aspects quite clearly. Similar contradictions existed in the role of the black woman. THE SOUTHERN FAMILY ROMANCE AND ITS CONTEXT 37 In his analysis, Rank observed that the foster "mothering agent" of the mythological hero was usually someone of low or peasant origin or even, as in the Romulus and Remus legend, an animal.
A Southern Renaissance: The Cultural Awakening of the American South, 1930-1955 by Richard H. King