Sunday, October 8, 2017

Don't Miss This: Fugitive Agrarians

 lost cause 2

I’ll Take My Stand, the classic statement of Southern Agrarianism, was first published in 1930. Since that time, it has never been out of print. You have to ask yourself why people have continued to read it. There are several good reasons why they shouldn’t.

It’s a quirky book. The 12 essays—written by men of varying backgrounds and talents—are uneven in quality, ranging from the fiercely polemical to the hyper-intellectual.

The book has little thematic unity. Ex post facto, John Crowe Ransom—a quiet little man who exercised an almost frightening intellectual authority over his colleagues—wrote a “Statement of Principles” which was published as an introduction to the essays. However, the essays themselves don’t necessarily illustrate these principles; and when they do, the illustrations seem almost accidental.

The society the essays defended has long since vanished. In 1930, the United States of America was still a nation of small towns. About 25 percent of Americans lived on farms, a disproportionate number of these in the South. Today that figure has shrunk to barely 1 percent.

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