Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Confederate Dialogue

A review of The Lytle-Tate Letters: The Correspondence of Andrew Lytle and Allen Tate (University of Mississippi Press, 1987), Thomas Daniel Young and Elizabeth Sarcone, eds.

Considering Allen Tate’s well-documented contrariness, the four-decade-long friendship of Tate and Andrew Lytle must be considered one of the great creative acts in the lives of both men. That the two men could keep their relationship under “constant repair” through forty years of financial uncertainty, marital discord (Tate) and geographic dislocation ultimately attests to the symbiosis that arose between the Kentucky poet/essayist/biographer and the Tennessee farmer/novelist/ essayist/ biographer. Certainly Tate, ambivalently poised between Agrarian belief and Modemist doubt, must have found in the practicing farmer Lytle the concreteness, the levelheadedness perhaps missing in himself and the other Agrarians. It is not surprising, then, that, as Young and Sarcone note, “a closer, more personal relationship existed between Andrew Lytle and Allen Tate than… between any of the other Nashville writers.”

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