In his new anthology of essays, The Southern Critics, which features the likes of John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren, Glenn C. Arbery claims that the Southern Critics “have been neglected” and I agree.[1] When they have been noticed, he says, “they have usually been faulted for not having the sensibilities that are now de rigueur, or they have been located politically in a strain of American conservatism that Eugene Genovese calls ‘the Southern tradition.’” Arbery’s aim is “to bring their writing before a new generation of readers who can see them afresh and judge for themselves.” But it is hard to see them afresh, now that their formative writings are nearly a century old: they must be seen historically. I’ll try to suggest how this might be done by...


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