Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Understanding Andrew Lytle

A Review of The Southern Vision of Andrew Lytle, by Mark Lucas, Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

Andrew Lytle’s writings comprise a rich and diverse tapestry whose outlines are difficult to bring together. The critic who tackles this varying body of material must become conversant in history, political philosophy, military biography, and literary criticism. Lytle has been feted for achievements in both history and literature; and he has held professorships in both disciplines. The attempt to suggest what Lytle’s achievements mean in various areas in which he ranges can be overpowering. And it is only the patient and learned critic who would undertake such a task.

Mark Lucas in The Southern Vision of Andrew Lytle writes with grace and clarity about Lytle’s accomplishment. His volume unifies Lytle’s achievement as a novelist, Agrarian essayist, biographer, and memoirist under the rubric of “Southern Vision.” This title is evocative in suggesting the organic evolution of Lytle’s writing in the areas of politics, history, religion and literature. Lucas presents Lytle as a prophetic figure whose calling is rooted in the example of Isaiah of Jerusalem, to whom Lucas alludes in estimating Lytle’s career. Lucas seizes on a central tenet of Lytle’s writings-the consistent objection to materialistic idolatry and the attendant loss of spiritual values in various orders of community-political, religious, and blood.

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