|ANATOMY OF SOUTHERN LITERATURE|
Review by Willard Manus
Just about everything you ever wanted to know about southern writers and writing is contained in LSU Press' brand-new 1000-page reference book, THE COMPANION TO SOUTHERN LITERATURE: THEMES, GENRES, PLACES, PEOPLE, MOVEMENTS AND MOTIFS. More than 250 scholars and authors contributed 500 concise, knowledgable articles on topics ranging from Abolition to Yonapatawpha.
Edited by Joseph M. Flora and Lucinda H. MacKethan, THE COMPANION can also be read as a history text. As the editors say in their introduction, "Historical events and figures--and there are many, for here is a region deeply, if ambivalently, protective of its historical identity--have been chosen for their enactment within and their impact upon the literature."
Explored are the literary embodiments of the Old South, New South, Solid South, Savage South, Lazy South and "Sahara of the Bozart." The entries delve into every conceivable topic found in southern writing from the pre-Columbian era to the present. LSU Press bills the book as "the equivalent of 9 hours of college credit."
THE COMPANION does
not shy away from controversial subjects, either.
THE COMPANION is
the kind of book one can dip into in random fashion
Next I peeked in
on The Blues section. ""Because blues music is part of the African
American vernacular tradition, its influence can be seen in the literary
works of writersa who emulate African American oral expression, such as
Richard Wright, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Sterlking A. Brown, Jean
Toomer, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston....More often the blues
is manifested in southern literature through use of the blues aesthetic.
The blues as a set of uniquely American aesthetic principles and values
was formedmulated and articulated by Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.
Ellison's description of the blues in 'Richard Wright's Blues' has been
cited in numerous critical readings as perhaps the definitive statement
on the blues;