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I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century

John Andrew Rice

Publication Year: 2014

John Andrew Rice’s autobiography, first published to critical acclaim in 1942, is a remarkable tour through late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America. When the book was suppressed by the publisher soon after its appearance because of legal threats by a college president described in the book, the nation lost a rich first-person historical account of race and class relations during a critical period—not only during the days of Rice’s youth, but at the dawn of the civil rights movement. I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century begins with Rice’s childhood on a South Carolina plantation during the post-Reconstruction era. Later Rice moved to Great Britain when he won a Rhodes scholarship, then to the University of Nebraska to accept a professorship. In 1933 he founded Black Mountain College, a legendary progressive college in North Carolina that uniquely combined creative arts, liberal education, self-government, and a work program. Rice’s observations of social and working conditions in the Jim Crow South, his chronicle of his own fading southern aristocratic family, including its famous politicians, and his acerbic portraits of education bureaucrats are memorable and make this book a resource for scholars and a pleasure for lay readers. Historical facts are leavened with wit and insight; black-white relations are recounted with relentless and unsentimental discernment. Rice combines a sociologist’s eye with a dramatist’s flair in a unique voice. This Southern Classics edition includes a new introduction by Mark Bauerlein and an afterword by Rice’s grandson William Craig Rice, exposing a new generation of readers to John Andrew Rice’s incisive commentaries on the American South before the 1960s and to the work of a powerful prose stylist.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Series: Southern Classics

Title page, Series page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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Series Editor’s Preface

Mark M. Smith

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pp. ix-x

Mark Bauerlein’s trenchant introduction and William Craig Rice’s edifying afterword to John Andrew Rice’s, I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century, help us properly understand the life and times of an unusually keen mind. Republished in its entirety for the first time since its suppression in the...

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Introduction: The Witness and Wisdom of John Andrew Rice

Mark Bauerlein

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pp. xi-xx

Those of us who believe that a clear understanding of the past is essential to an honest, rational present are particularly fond of small facts that explode stereotypes about American history that people maintain for reasons other than knowledge. When the subject is the American South, subject as it is to...

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I. Grandmother Smith's Plantation

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pp. 1-40

Every day in summer and on warm days in the winter my grandmother sat in her chair at the end of the long front piazza and smoked her clay pipe--a thing, I have since been told, a lady never did. But a lady did...

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II. Columbia

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pp. 41-107

Columbia in 1892 was an awkward overgrown village, like a country boy come to town all dressed up on a Saturday night. The red clay roads from the countryside flowed into it and became by definition streets, kept straight by the bordering sidewalks and lot lines...

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III. Grandmother Rice's Plantation

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pp. 108-158

My father's family lived in the low country, a hot muggy malarial land that sapped the strength and drained ambition from all except the toughest. The sandy soil, shading in color from grey on hillock and hammock to deep black at the swamp edge, merged...

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IV. Montgomery

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pp. 159-196

My first intimate acquaintance, and enemy, in Montgomery was a cow. My father, lover of simple country life, in imagination, and for others, calling himself and yet never having been a farm boy, thought it would be good for my character to have a cow to milk and to...

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V. Webb School

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pp. 197-222

As a man who has been cheated in business or love or any of the things that happen will toss on his bed through the sleepless night, going over each step in the transaction and saying to himself, "If I had done this," "If I had not done that," and rises with the sun, full...

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VI. Interlude Among the Half-Castes

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pp. 223-241

New Orleans was a city of gutters, gutters everywhere, on houses, in yards, along both sides of every street, and crossing, each with its perilous little bridge, at the comers. Through gutters hanging under the eaves the constant rain was carried to great wooden...

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VII. Oxford and Rhodes Scholars

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pp. 242-268

The thrifty traveler to a far country is not a discoverer; having read guidebooks and steamship folders and listened to his friends, the learned Columbus will make a voyage of connnnation, and will approve according as he meets with the expected. A British visitor...

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VIII. Sam Avery and the University of Nebraska

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pp. 269-294

Sam Avery had a nose like the neck of a whiskey bottle. It jutted out and downward straight from between his eyes, and then, when it was about to be too long, bulged suddenly and rounded into the size of a golf ball. It was as if it had been poured into a mold...

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IX. Rollins Was Holt

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pp. 295-313

I had heard and read something of Rollins College, all of it a little questionable, and had seen pictures in the rotogravures, one in particular that invited speculation, of Corra Harris surrounded by carefree students. This, the caption said, was the class in "Evil," the...

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X. Black Mountain

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pp. 314-342

Black Mountain was born on the wrong side of the blanket. An agent of the Carnegie Foundation told me that, about two years after we, some twenty students and eight teachers, had gone up on the mountain to create, or in the hope of creating, a new kind of...

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pp. 343-352

It should come as no surprise to readers of I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century that John Andrew Rice’s unstinting candor came at great cost to him in his professional and personal life. Yet that candor also appears to have kept him remarkably honest about the deeds and details of his life—and...

Sources for Further Exploration

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pp. 353

E-ISBN-13: 9781611174373
E-ISBN-10: 1611174376
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611174366

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Southern Classics