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The Dream of Arcady

Place and Time in Southern Literature

"This is a well-organized, gracefully written account of a significant aspect of Southern fiction, and it contains information and incisive commentary that one can find nowhere else."

—Thomas Daniel Young


Many southern writers imagined the South as a qualified dream of Arcady. They retained the glow of the golden land as a device to expose or rebuke, to confront or escape the complexities of the actual times in which they lived.

The Dream of Arcady examines the work of post-Civil War southern writers who criticize the myth of the South as pastoral paradise. Sooner or later in all their idealized worlds, the idyllic vision fades in an inescapable moment of awakening. This moment, which is central to MacKethan's study, produces an atmosphere pastoral in mood and implications.

Her perspective analysis juxtaposes the responses of Sidney Lanier, Joel Chandler Harris, and Thomas Nelson Page, who contributed to yet hope to transcend sectionalism, with the ambivalent views of black writers Charles Chesnutt and Jean Toomer. Considering the writings of the Agrarians, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty, MacKethan then concludes her study by questioning whether the Arcadian dream still serves the artist of our era as a frame for artistic and ideological purposes.



"A straightforward and sensible study, written in a refreshingly jargon-free style that makes it accessible to a variety of readers. MacKethan's approach to the authors she considers invites us to listen carefully to the voices in stories by other Southern women, especially those writing today, for whom heritage and place seem to be as significant as they were for earlier generations."--Mississippi Quarterly

"Elegant, concise, and comprehensive . . . Overall, the text provides a persuasive argument for an understanding of southern women's literature, which spans centuries, races, and genres. Strongly recommended."--Choice

"An eloquent analysis of the role of 'voicing' in southern women's fiction . . . Examining texts by both black and white women writers MacKethan demonstrates that, despite their vastly different experiences of oppression, southern women—and perhaps all women writers—achieve and express selfhood in similar ways."--Southern Quarterly

LSU Press

0807153567, 9780807153567

First Edition (July 1, 1980)

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