The Fugitives: A Critical Account

By John M. Bradbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
Warren's Fiction

" THE PHILOSOPHIC NOVELIST," Robert Penn Warren has written, "... is one for whom the documentation of the world is constantly striving to rise to the level of generalization about values, for whom the image strives constantly to rise to symbol, for whom images always fall into a dialectic configuration, for whom the urgency of experience, no matter how vividly and strongly experience may enchant, is the urgency to know the meaning of experience.... For him the very act of composition [is] a way of knowing, a way of exploration." i.

We require, I think, no better definition of Warren's own practice as a novelist than this, from his introduction to Conrad's Nostromo. To a considerable extent this definition will apply to the body of the more significant fiction of our time, the particular heritage of Flaubert, and especially to the more significant fiction of the Southern literary renaissance. In Warren, however, we have our purest exemplar of the type, for the vivid naturalism which characterizes the surface of his stories is never without its reflection into the depths where its meaning patterns are formed, and configurations are never allowed to distort, in the fashion of allegory, the literal rendering of observed experience. Warren's apparent superfluities, therefore, even his "rhetoric," must be seen always as relevant to the meaning patterns which his novels develop. His books are conceived like poems of at once lyric intensity and reflective brooding, so that they must be read like poems, with full concentration on image and tone and the "dialectic configurations" which these ultimately produce.

____________________
i.
" Nostromo," Sewanee Review, LIX, 391.

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The Fugitives: A Critical Account
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Fugitives - A Critical Account *
  • Foreword *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Table of Contents *
  • Chapter I- The Beginnings *
  • Chapter II- The Fugitive *
  • Chapter III- Ransom as Poet *
  • Chapter IV- Apprentice Tate *
  • Chapter V- Other Apprentices *
  • Chapter VI- Critics and Agrarians *
  • Chapter VII- Aesthetic Formalism *
  • Chapter VIII- Tate as Critic *
  • Chapter IX- Ransom as Critic *
  • Chapter X- Tate''s Fiction *
  • Chapter XI- Tate as Poet *
  • Chapter XII- Warren as Poet *
  • Chapter XIII- Warren''s Fiction *
  • Chapter XIV- Brooks and Warren, Critics *
  • Chapter XV- Conclusion *
  • Appendix- The Minor Fugitives *
  • Selected Bibliography *
  • Index *
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