Defining Southern Literature: Perspectives and Assessments, 1831-1952

By John E. Bassett | Go to book overview

53
Edd Winfield Parks: Introduction to
Southern Poets (1936)

Edd Winfield Parks (1906–1968] joined the faculty at the University of
Georgia in 1935 and stayed for the rest of his life. He wrote books on
Simms, Timrod, Lanier, Poe, and topics in Southern literature. This an-
thology included an extensive historical survey as an introduction. These
particular pages consider Ransom and other modern poets and empha-
size their “metaphysical” elements. The documentary footnotes have not
been reprinted but have been replaced by bracketed citations of the critics
quoted. Also published at this time was a similar anthology of South-
ern Prose
.

It is significant that in 1912 Fletcher thought it necessary to leave the United States, like Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot; their influence was felt from abroad, but it was tenuous and indirect. More immediate was the recognition about the same time of Edwin Arlington Robinson, the emergence of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Lee Masters, and other poets who revivified an art which had seemed almost dead. Not until 1920 was the Southern poet stirred to action. Diverse groups began to write poetry and to publish little magazines.

With a single exception these groups may be divided in two categories. One was up-to-date, smart, and sophisticated; the other interested in the realistic-romantic possibilities of local color. Two examples of each type may be cited: in New Orleans Julius Friend and John McClure edited The Double Dealer; in Richmond Emily Clark (with some assistance from James Branch Cabell, Ellen Glasgow, and other established writers) edited The Reviewer. These magazines were smart and sophisticated, but rootless. In a letter written, significantly, to the editor of The Reviewer, H. L. Mencken summarized their inadequacy: “Friend is failing in New Orleans

Edd Winfield Parks, Southern Poets (New York: American Book Co., 1936), cxxiii-cxxix.

-373-

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