Romances of the White Man's Burden
Race, Empire, and the Plantation in American Literature, 1880-1936
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Vanderbilt University Press
Table of Contents
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Introduction: White Southern Men and the Burden of Empire
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In a very bad novel published in 1907 and titled Love Is the Sum of It All: A Plantation Romance, the former Confederate soldier turned popular writer George Cary Eggleston wondered whether the old plantations of the antebellum South might provide evidence that nature intended the United States to dominate the world: ...
1. Uncle Remus's Empire
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The first academic study of the image of the plantation in American literature was published in 1924. Titled The Southern Plantation: A Study of the Development and Accuracy of a Tradition, it was written by Francis Pendleton Gaines, a native of South Carolina who had grown up and gone to college in Virginia but then, like some of the other white southern men whose writings and careers I examine in this book, had needed to travel northward before ...
2. "The Old South under New Conditions": Henry W. Grady, Thomas Nelson Page, and New Southern Manhood
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The previous chapter made a great deal of the idea of proximity and the fact that Joel Chandler Harris’s celebration of the old plantation was based primarily on his belief that close contact with black southerners had afforded white southern men forms of comprehension and even culture that few others could claim legitimately to possess. Given the emphasis thus placed upon propinquity, it is worth noting at the outset of this chapter that one of its ...
3. Manifest Destinies, Invisible Empires: Thomas Dixon's Imperial Fantasies
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In his unfinished, posthumously published autobiography, Thomas Dixon Jr. recounts a conversation he had had with his publisher, Walter Hines Page, shortly before Page published The Leopard’s Spots (1902), Dixon’s debut novel and the first in his trilogy celebrating the rise of the Ku Klux Klan: ...
4. "White Babies . . . Struggling": William Faulkner and the White Man's Burden
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The fiction of William Faulkner is replete with images of burdened white manhood. In The Unvanquished (1938), for example, a young Bayard Sartoris is informed by his aunt of the scandal caused by his cousin Drusilla’s having dressed as a man and fought under the command of Bayard’s father during the Civil War. The only solution, his aunt informs him, is for his father and Drusilla to marry: “Bayard, I do not ask your forgiveness for this because ...
Conclusion: Plantation Nationhood and the Myth of Southern Otherness
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One narrative of how southern literature achieved national and global recognition during the 1930s and afterward goes like this. In 1917 H. L. Mencken, the Baltimore-born editor and essayist who by that time had become a fixture of a New York–based literary establishment, published “The Sahara of the Bozart,” an essay disparaging the South for its failure to have contributed to American “civilization” since the end of the Civil War. Broad ...
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Page Count: 265
Publication Year: 2011