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Shorter Book Reviews 135 "supreme fiction" by pairing and opposing contradictory assertions--in the Adagia, from poem to poem, and within longer poems. Coyle also considers aphorism as the abstract counterpart to imagist condensation--though here her remarks are more suggestive than definitive. She does not, unfortunately, pursue certain related issues. She does not consider aphorism as counterforce to Stevens's besetting temptation of diffuseness, nor does she consider its relation to classical epigram, nor does she distinguish the classical aphorism of universal truth from the provisional and paradoxical romantic variety. Finally, she does not consider aphorism in the context of Emersonian tradition, where Stevens again emerges as "chichi"companion to the homespun Frost. Coyle's book, then, is more modest than it need have been, but it provides a refreshing perspective on one of America's greatest poets. Notes Stephen J. Adarns Department of English University of Western Ontario 1 Gerald L. Bruns, "Stevens without Epistemology," in Albert Gelpi, ed.,Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism (Cambridge, 1985),24-40. 2 Leonora Woodman, Stanza My Stone: Wallace Stevens and the Mermetic Tradition (West Lafayette, 1983). Frederick F. Siegel. The Roots of Southern Distinctiveness: Tobacco and Society in Danville, Virginia, 1780-1865. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.205 pp. Central to any discussion of the distinctiveness of the American South is the debate over the antebellum Southern economy. Did slavery, an overdependence on cotton, and a lack of urbanization and industrialization create economic stagnation and retard development? Or did the South, as some have argued, possess a thriving economy whose rates of growth matched those of the North? The economic behavior of the Southern planter class is a related issue of controversy. Did planters act in an essentially capitalist manne.r, making rational economic decisions in order to maximize profit? Or were they primarily pre-bourgeois in character, guided by 136 Shorter Book Reviews paternalism towards their slaves and their poor white neighbors? In this study of the social economy of a tobacco town, Frederick F. Siegel addresses these questions with intelligence, extensive research and a thorough understanding of the historiographical issues at stake. Danville is located in Pittsylvania county, which rests in the southwestern Virginia Piedmont. From its earliest beginnings to the end of the Civil War, Danville was inextricably bound to the vicissitudes of a tobacco economy. Slavery, tobacco and planters became firmly implanted in Danville in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as Tidewater emigrants sought fresh lands for Virginia's staple crop. By the 1830s,the manufacturing of tobacco became the mainstay of the town's economy. With the rise of bright tobacco in the 1840s and 1850s, Danville became the third largest tobacco manufacturing center in Virginia. The planter-entrepreneurs of Danville, Siegel suggests, were filled with bourgeois values and hopes, and under their direction, Danville soon acquired the appearance of a Yankee commercial town. The chartering of the Richmond and Danville Railroad in 1847, the profusion of clocks and timepieces and the stirrings of a temperance movement all presaged the coming of modernization. Economic interests continued to guide Danville's elite as the South drifted toward secession and civil war. At first, town leaders were reluctant to embrace secession for fear of jeopardizing their newly-found prosperity. However, when the War brought new economic benefits to the town, Danville enlisted enthusiastically behind the new Southern nation. Ironically, this commercial town in Virginia became the last capital of the Confederacy, as Jefferson Davis sought refuge there from the approaching Union armies. While tobacco nourished the growth of Danville's economy, it inhibited its economic development. Danville's potential grmvth along the lines of the English agricultural revolution was thwarted by the demanding requirements of tobacco. This failure of economic development, according to Siegel, cannot be explained by the labor system or values, but rather by inferior soil and climate. Siegel establishes this point by comparing Pittsylvania county with Augusta county in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. With a soil better suited to the growth of a variety of agricultural products, Augusta was able to achieve agricultural diversification and hence a wider range of economic activity. Thus, Siegel's interpretation of Danville's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 135-137
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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