Fears and Fascinations
Representing Catholicism in the American South
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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This book has been seven years in the making and has gone through several incarnations. The English department of Vanderbilt University generously funded a year of relief from teaching, and the English department of the University of Tennessee provided me with a summer grant that enabled me to travel to libraries. Both institutions also provided supportive environments...
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‘‘He is the one who is curious to me.’’1 Jason Compson Sr.’s offhand remark about Charles Bon identifies a persistent source of fascination in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! ‘‘Curious’’ Bon certainly is: as Thomas Sutpen’s unacknowledged son and wrecker of his dynastic ‘‘design,’’ a man of French ethnicity and uncertain race, a languorous and fatalistic decadent,...
Chapter 1: Catholic Miscegenations: The Cultural Legacy of Les Cenelles
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In 1845 a group of seventeen free Creoles of color in New Orleans published Les Cenelles (The Holly Berries), a volume of lyric poems in French. The fruit of an endeavor that had begun two years before with the establishment of L’album litteraire, the first ‘‘little magazine’’ in Louisiana, Les Cenelles emphasizes its communal production and adheres closely to a shared romantic...
Chapter 2: Medieval Yearnings: A Catholicism for Whites in Nineteenth-Century Southern Literature
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Of the many attempts to explain the causes of the American Civil War, Mark Twain’s assigning of the blame to Sir Walter Scott is among the wryest—second, perhaps, only to Abraham Lincoln’s judgment that Harriet Beecher Stowe was responsible. According to Twain’s attack on Scott in Life on the Mississippi, at the beginning of the nineteenth century both North...
Chapter 3: The Pleasures of Decadence: Catholicism in Kate Chopin, Carson McCullers, and Anne Rice
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Since the 1970s, when Kate Chopin’s fiction began to be rediscovered by feminist critics, the initial reception of The Awakening has passed into literary history as the story of a great but unsurprising atrocity. According to this narrative, a gifted writer, successful as a local colorist, is effectively silenced when she undertakes her greatest work because her contemporaries, blinded...
Chapter 4: Agrarian Catholics: The Catholic Turn in Southern Literature
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Is Flannery O’Connor best viewed as a southern writer or as a Catholic writer? This question may appear willfully reductive, but it marks a divide that refuses to go away. Even after several decades of attention to her work, O’Connor’s critics can be grouped into those who read her primarily through a theological lens (often casting themselves as faithful exegetes or...
Chapter 5: Toward Catholicism as Lifestyle: Walker Percy, John Kennedy Toole, and Rebecca Wells
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During the decade from 1955 to 1965, the civil rights movement emerged as a major political force in the South, and despite fierce resistance from southern whites, it began to achieve success. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 abolished de jure racial segregation and ensured black southerners’ right to vote, thus sounding the death knell of...
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Page Count: 236
Publication Year: 2005