The Spyglass, Views and Reviews, 1924-1930: Selected and Edited by John Tyree Fain

By Donald Davidson | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The present volume is a selection of book reviews and comments written by Donald Davidson for the Nashville Tennessean from February 4, 1924, to November 30, 1930. Most of the items appeared in the feature column of a book page edited by Davidson for the Tennessean during those years. It has often been said to be the best literary page ever published in the South. Probably of greater significance, however, is its close connection with the Southern literary renascence. In speaking of the relationship of the Fugitive and Agrarian movements, recent commentators have noted that this change of interest from poetry, to social criticism occurred during the brief period between the last number of The Fugitive ( December 1925) and the publication of I'll Take My Stand ( 1930). The record of this change can be traced in the Tennessean's literary page. Davidson himself puts the matter thus:

The Fugitive magazine had less than a year to run when I started editing the Tennessean Book Page. Some "Fugitives" (that is, Ransom, Tate, Warren, and I) were passing into their "Agrarian phase" shortly afterwards . . . The Book Page became more than a book page because of the ideas, hopes, pressures, enterprises, both individual and collective, that engaged us all from about 1925 to 1930 and later.1

In January of 1924 John H. Nye, managing editor of the Tennessean, approached Davidson on the subject of the book page. The pay, Nye explained, would be ten dollars a week plus the books. Davidson jumped at the chance. He had a wife and daughter to support. It would be ten dollars every week in the year, while his salary of $1800 as instructor of English at Vanderbilt hardly sufficed in predepression Nashville for the nine months of the school year. But aside from the need, he really liked newspaper work-he had

____________________
1
Letter to editor, June 1960.

-v-

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