James Lane Allen and the Genteel Tradition

James Lane Allen and the Genteel Tradition

James Lane Allen and the Genteel Tradition

James Lane Allen and the Genteel Tradition

Excerpt

I am not one of those who believe that dead authors should be disinterred. Literary graveyards deserve respect as well as do other burial grounds, and once a writer and his books have completely and rightfully passed into oblivion they should for the sake of decency be permitted to remain there. But it sometimes happens that headstones are placed over authors who have prematurely been laid away, authors who because of some shift in taste or spread of prejudice have been buried under epitaphs more or less kind and then unjustly forgotten. To resurrect such authors and to attempt to confer upon them that bit of immortality which they claim becomes not the duty of a pedant, therefore, but the pleasure of the student of literature who, not carried away by the high wind of contemporary opinion, wishes to assess calmly and independently the values of the men who have created our letters. In doing so he often discovers that second and even third-rate authors are not only good reading but also of lasting importance for anyone who wishes to trace the development of our national culture.

James Lane Allen was accustomed to say that if his biography were written he preferred that it should be done by one who was neither his friend nor his foe. In that respect I am well qualified to set forth the story of his career. I never saw Mr. Allen, had no personal relation with him, had read but one of his novels before beginning my investigation of his worth, and came from a state several hundred miles distant from the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. If I had any feeling at all about him it was one approaching condescension, for I had been disappointed in The Choir Invisible and had been taught that he was sentimental to the point of sweetness and romantic to the border of unreality. As I pro-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.