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Apples and Ashes

Literature, Nationalism, and the Confederate States of America

Coleman Hutchison

Publication Year: 2012

Apples and Ashes offers the first literary history of the Civil War South. The product of extensive archival research, it tells an expansive story about a nation struggling to write itself into existence. Confederate literature was in intimate conversation with other contemporary literary cultures, especially those of the United States and Britain. Thus, Coleman Hutchison argues, it has profound implications for our understanding of American literary nationalism and the relationship between literature and nationalism more broadly.

Apples and Ashes is organized by genre, with each chapter using a single text or a small set of texts to limn a broader aspect of Confederate literary culture. Hutchison discusses an understudied and diverse archive of literary texts including the literary criticism of Edgar Allan Poe; southern responses to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; the novels of Augusta Jane Evans; Confederate popular poetry; the de facto Confederate national anthem, “Dixie”; and several postwar southern memoirs. In addition to emphasizing the centrality of slavery to the Confederate literary imagination, the book also considers a series of novel topics: the reprinting of European novels in the Confederate South, including Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables; Confederate propaganda in Europe; and postwar Confederate emigration to Latin America.

In discussing literary criticism, fiction, poetry, popular song, and memoir, Apples and Ashes reminds us of Confederate literature’s once-great expectations. Before their defeat and abjection—before apples turned to ashes in their mouths—many Confederates thought they were in the process of creating a nation and a national literature that would endure.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: The New Southern Studies


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p. ix

List of Figures

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p. xi

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Introduction. Great Expectations: The Imaginative Literature of the Confederate States of America

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pp. 1-17

For nearly 150 years there has seemingly been a critical consensus that Confederate imaginative literature is not worthy of extensive consideration. Despite consistent, even obsessive interest in the most obscure aspects of American Civil War culture, literary historians have largely ignored the poetry, fiction, drama, music, and criticism produced in the Confederate States...

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One. A History of the Future: Southern Literary Nationalism before the Confederacy

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pp. 18-62

I begin with a pithy, pretty piece of apocrypha, one retold with some regularity in literary histories of the pre-Confederate South: that the 1856 Southern Commercial Convention in Savannah passed the following resolution: “Resolved, That there be a Southern Literature. Resolved, That William Gilmore Simms, L.L.D., be requested to write this literature”...

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Two. A New Experiment in the Art of Book-Making: Engendering the Confederate National Novel

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pp. 63-98

In the scant criticism that attends Augusta Jane Evans’s Confederate nationalist novel Macaria; or Altars of Sacrifice (1864), there is an anecdote retold with almost absurd regularity: that Evans’s immensely popular wartime novel was deemed “contraband and dangerous” by Union general G. H. Thomas, who, it is said, forbid his troops from reading it (Fidler, Augusta Evans Wilson 107). ...

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Three. Southern Amaranths: Popularity, Occasion, and Media in a Confederate Poetics of Place

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pp. 99-142

Published in the first days of the Civil War centennial, Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore offered what was for decades the final word on the poetry of the “war between brothers”: “The period of the Civil War was not at all a favorable one for poetry. An immense amount of verse was written in connection with the war itself, but today it makes barren reading” (466). ...

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Four. The Music of Mars: Confederate Song, North and South

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pp. 143-172

In Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House (1868), Elizabeth Keckley, former slave and modiste to Mary Todd Lincoln, shares a provocative anecdote about President Lincoln and the Confederate anthem “Dixie.” Writing of Robert E. Lee’s imminent surrender, Keckley records an exhausted Lincoln’s speech from early April 1865...

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Five. In Dreamland: The Confederate Memoir at Home and Abroad

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pp. 173-203

In 1876 the Philadelphia publisher H. W. Kelley produced a broadside advertisement for a new Civil War narrative, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez. The broadside claimed, with seeming hyperbole, that The Woman in Battle charts a “career of adventure which has never been paralleled on this continent”...

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pp. 205-207

Let me begin by acknowledging my teachers: at Lakeridge, Karen Hoppes; at Vanderbilt, Teresa Goddu, Roy Gottfried, Mark Schoenfield, Sheila Smith McKoy, and Cecelia Tichi; and at Northwestern, Brian T. Edwards, Betsy Erkkila, Wendy Griswold, Jay Grossman, Larry Lipking, Jeffrey Masten, Carl Smith, and Julia Stern. Teresa, Julia, and Betsy deserve special thanks. ...


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pp. 209-240

Works Cited

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pp. 241-264


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pp. 265-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343655
E-ISBN-10: 082034365X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820337319
Print-ISBN-10: 0820337315

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 5 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The New Southern Studies
Series Editor Byline: Jon Smith and Riché Richardson, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 781634984
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Apples and Ashes

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism
  • Politics and literature -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Confederate States of America -- Intellectual life.
  • Regionalism -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Group identity -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
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