Stories with a Moral: Literature and Society in Nineteenth-Century Georgia

Article excerpt

Stories with a Moral: Literature and Society in Nineteenth-Century Georgia, by Michael E. Price.

Suggesting that literary works are a viable gauge in which to measure fundamental social change, Stories with a Moral explores what Southern historian Edward Ayers has called "the elusive emotional geography" of Old and New South. In his examination of 19th-century Georgian writers, author Michael Price sets out to explore the ways changes in economics, governance, sexuality, race, and urbanization were conveyed and shaped by the literary culture of the state. like other historians of the region, Price argues that the archetype of the "plantation society" and all of its associated morays dominated the cultural landscape of Georgia throughout the 19th century. Thus the author concludes, the capitalist transformation of the countryside witnessed during this period was one that was met with stiff resistance and, at times, had ironic even tragic consequences for its participants. While Price's argument is sound, it breaks no new ground in terms of historiography; however, his use of "literature"-applied in the broadest sense of the term-to frame his argument does give students of history a much fuller picture of 19th-century life. …