Mind and the American Civil War: A Meditation on Lost Causes (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS283 footnote appended to it; in fact, he has left virtually unexplored the vast literature on gentility and the gentleman, which would set the De Forest clan and J. W. De Forest in clearer perspective. Hijiya attempts a definition, "the quality of being like a gentleman" (note 3, p. 149), and he refers to Howells's ideal of the gentleman as the De Forests' own (10), but the complexity of the term and the shift in J. W. De Forest's attitudes towards the ideal require greater explication. One missed opportunity is the elucidation of the code of conduct in the American South, with which De Forest had intimate contact. He treats it in fiction and essay, as in "The 'High-Toned Gentleman'" (1868, in the Nation). Hijiya notes that this last work is "a critical appreciation of the Southern cavalier" (70), and that De Forest admired, but ultimately rejected, the chivalry and manners of the Old South (73ff). But the reader learns virtually nothing about "The 'High-Toned Gentleman'," the precise nature of the Southern brand of gentlemanliness, or how it was that De Forest's ultimate career phase had so much in common with the gentleman culture of the Old South. It could be argued, on the collective verdict of this book, that the Yankee soldier who maligned blacks in fiction and "inveighed against granting free citizenship to the freedmen" (113) became a Southern planter in spirit. His peculiar gentility was no "return to Camelot," as De Forest's Victorian contemporaries understood the route, but rather an embittered elitism fed by artistic failure and the lack of recognition. The final irony is perhaps that J. W. De Forest nursed a prickly conception of honor (this term nowhere explored by Hijiya) that would fit seamlessly into any account of Southern culture. William C. McDonald University of Virginia Mind and the American Civil War: A Meditation on Lost Causes. By Lewis P. Simpson. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Pp. xiv, 110. $15.95.) In Mind and the American Civil War, Lewis Simpson offers a reflective summary of his lifelong scholarly preoccupation, "the complex, fateful, even tragic connection between the South and New England." In The Man of Letters in New England and the South, Simpson argued that Southern men of letters diverged from their New England counterparts as a result of their commitment to slavery and the Southern social order. This commitment cut Southerners off from the movement of western culture towards individualism and an antagonism between the self and society, a movement epitomized in the expansion of the Republic of Letters. Simpson modified this interpretation in The Dispossessed Garden in response to evidence that Southerners eagerly adopted romantic modes 284civil war history of thought, the very categories of the psychology of alienation to which they had presumably been denied access. Southerners, however, applied romantic categories in ways that distinguished Southern culture from other variants of modern culture, for Southern intellectuals themselves turned to Romanticism to bolster the claims of Southern society rather than to criticize them. Mind and the American Civil War consists of three essays delivered in slightly different form at the 1988 Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History at Louisiana State University. The first essay, "Land, Slaves, and Mind: The High Culture of the Jeffersonian South," rehearses the divergence of Southern culture from New England culture, spelled out in Simpson's earlier work, and sets up his main concern in the latter two essays—the extent to which this divergence sheds light on the meaning of the Civil War. The second essay, "Slavery and the Cultural Imperialism of New England," uses Emerson to demonstrate the nationalistic impulse in New England culture. As Simpson convincingly argues, Emerson's Unionism arose only with his conviction that the destruction of the South would lead to the extension of New England culture throughout the country. In the last essay, "The South and the Lost Cause of New England," Simpson shows how the Civil War destroyed the "Old Republic " that both Southerners and New Englanders had sought to define in their own image. Though Emerson did not recognize it, the Civil War forced New England's...


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