A review of All Clever Men, Who Make Their Own Way: Critical Discourse in the Old South, edited with an introduction by Michael O’Brien. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. 1982. 456 pages.
The intellectual history of the South is yet to be written. This assertion bootlegs two assumptions that do not go unchallenged. The first is that there is something called the South distinct enough to have a history. There are those who, from a variety of standpoints, dispute this premise. Some seem to feel that the South is evil and that therefore it is best treated as spurious and unreal, a kind of temporary aberration from the norm of a progressive democratic universe. For others the South is intangible, dubiously quantifiable, and therefore we should concern ourselves with other things about which we can make more reliable, scientific generalizations. These challenges would seem to be overruled by common sense. The South must be in some sense a historical reality— millions have for generations acted as though it were, and even today, hundreds of presumptively sane people throughout the globe are devoting careers to studying it.
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