June 7, 2010

A Great Legacy Pt. 2

These are but a few of the many talented writers and poets from the great Southern tradition in American literature. My favorites in this particular group are William Faulkner, a visionary and genius by any definition and the writer who set the standard for all who came after, Flannery O'Connor, unrivaled writer of short stories and Fred Chappell, a ferocious talent as a writer and poet.

I was not aware of the strong Southern contribution in American letters until I was introduced to some of these artists  in college. One of the reasons for this outporing (especially with Faulkner) was their ability to combine their sense of history, a tradition of story telling, a strong sense of history and place with new ways of writing and thinking (stream of consciousness etc). They were able to look both forward and backward across the historical landscape.

At a time when many considered the South a land of poor, racist, unlettered folk who couldn't get over losing the Civil War these artists were creating works that will stand the test of time and remain some of the best writing in any language from any time period. It is a tremendous legacy of which I am very proud.


techranger said...

A grouping of great talent to be sure. :) Thanks for the post.


God bless...


Victoria said...

man, I love all of these authors.
I had a prof in university who was completely enamoured by southern gothic, and he made me love o'connor and faulkner just as much as he did.
I am fascinated by the south because of these writers.
you're right. it seems like a juxtaposition. our stereotypes are so completely challenged by the genius of these writers.
oh, and 'the heart is a lonely hunter' is so heartbreakingly beautiful. wow.
thanks for this reminder. I haven't picked up any of these books in a while. I think I need to...

elizabeth said...

some great writers indeed!

Ian Climacus said...

Showing my ignorance, but I know very few; but a good excuse to look to the local libraries and see if I can pick up a few works. Any works you particularly recommend from the authors you mentioned?

November In My Soul said...

Fortunately you will have a feast from which to select.

Flannery O’Connor – Two collections of short stories, The Violent Bear it Away, and, A Good Man is Hard To Find And Other Stories. One of her primary themes is that sometimes God has to use violence/extreme measures to get our attention. Two of my favorite stories are, A Good Man Is Hard To Find, and, Greenleaf. In the former a character called the Misfit seems to operate as God’s agent despite the fact that he is a murderer. In, Greenleaf, the protagonist has issues with the neighbor’s bull running loose on her property. The bull brings about god’s work and is clearly a clearly a symbolic Christ. All this having been said she is never heavy handed or didactic. The first time I read her stories I had no idea she was talking about God.

William Faulkner – I think a good book to start with is, The Unvanquished. It’s a series of stories set during and just after the Civil War. Great story, themes and characters. The Portable Faulkner, (a collection of stories and bits of novels) helps get your mind around just how immense Faulkner’s legacy really is. His Collected Short Stories is also very good. Some of his other novels, The Sound And The Fury, Absalom, Absalom! and As I Lay Dying are also very good but a more difficult read because of multiple narrators, overlapping narratives and stream of consciousness passages.

Fred Chappell – Anything is good but I especially like, I Am One Of You Forever, Farewell I’m Bound To Leave You, and Brighten The Corner Where You Are. Mr. Chappell is the unrecognized genius of this generation’s writers.

William Styron’s excellent novel, Sophie’s Choice, I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s the only book I have ever read that I actually burst out crying while reading it. Also, Eudora Welty has some excellent novels and short story collections. Another writer I didn’t mention although he is from New Orleans is Robert Olen Butler. His collection of stories, A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain, is one of my all time favorite books.

I hope this is enough to get you pointed in the right direction.


Ian Climacus said...

Thanks William; much appreciated. I'll start the library search...