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Yet, those same professors introduced me to Weaver – none of whom, as I alluded to, agreed with Weaver’s ideas.
This collection of fourteen essays demonstrates George Core's point that "few writers of the South rival Richard Weaver in comprehensiveness of vision and depth of thought."--Publisher.
It is not that hard today – all these years later –to discern that the same ills identified by Richard Weaver still persist.
The arrival of the 20th Century brought about many economic and social changes to the United States. that their judgments were to be in part ethical and aesthetic.
This changing backdrop set the stage for new interpretations of the South, especially one that places the Old South as a region set against industrialism and progress, and one squarely within the main tradition of Western European civilization. The 1920s ushered in a group of Southern scholars and writers, centered largely at Vanderbilt, who arrived fresh upon the scene and wielded a different sort of pen than that of their Southern predecessors. They were thus concerned immediately with the quality of the South; and this orientation put the case upon an independent footing.” (p.7).
Weaver points out that the Southern apologists – who published in the decades after the Civil War - “wrote well rather than wisely,” and that such writing “was not so much history as special pleading.” (p. Weaver includes among the apologists, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Robert Lewis Dabney, Thomas Nelson Page, Woodrow Wilson and others.
These apologists, according to Weaver, “spent themselves in parrying, denying, and defending, and their victories were defensive victories.” (p.7).
Weaver was a scholar par excellence and my professors met him, in turn, as scholars in kind. Part One: “Work With the Word”: Southern Literature and Thought, is made up of four essays, the first three of which overlap in subject matter.
Students invited to the dueling-ground of ideas were often required to pick up a weapon and fire it - in whichever direction. Accordingly, I will discuss those three collectively and not individually.
The notion that sparked my memory began to pique my curiosity.
I put down the latest oh-so-relevant journal, went straight for my disorganized library, and began shuffling through the chaos of irrelevant knowledge. Weaver was the first book by Weaver that I pulled off my dusty bookshelf, and it did not take long for me to mumble under breath, “Oh, now I recall.” Yet it transported me back in time when there were no laptops or Google, where I was berated by wild-haired professors, each seemingly hunched over and pale-skinned from lack of sun, but infused with the old time religious fervor of New Dealisms and Reagan haters! That Weaver viewed Western Civilization through the lens of the Old South bothered my professors.