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an attractive volume in The Lines Are Drawn. The reproductions are large and crisp, the layout is clean, and the design is fetching. In short, the book would make a handsome addition to any private library or coffee table and is a great source for instructors looking to plunder it for slides. A Defender of Southern Conservatism M. E. Bradford and His Achievements Edited by Clyde N. Wilson University of Missouri Press, 1999 208 pp. Cloth, $29.95 Reviewed by Alphonse Vinh of National Public Radio, author of Cleanth Brooks andAllen Tate: The Collectedletters, 19)3—1976, from the University of Missouri Press, 1998. The Nashville Agrarian M. E. Bradford once said diat a man could be born a southerner and a conservative but not be a Southern Conservative. Clyde Wilson has gathered essays in A Defender ofSouthern Conservatism diat explain what Bradford meant. The Nashville Agrarians were essentially men of letters. Like many educated southerners of their generation, they were able students of southern history and culture. But it remained for their most brilliant disciple to be, in James McClellan 's words, "die first of the Nashville School to make a serious study of the founding documents and die men who participated in the framing and adoption of die Federal Constitution." Bradford's studies of die constitution and the American founding are simply brilliant, and his Plutarchan lives of the Founding Fathers are delightful to read. In Bradford's opinion, it was die Soudi that remained loyal to die ideas ofdie Founding Fathers. Not that he was a romantic defender ofthe Lost Cause. His defense of the "southern tradition," which Eugene Genovese accurately surmises to be essentially a conservative tradition steeped in classical and English political thought, seeks to return us to the roots of the southernpoliticaltradition. It is not surprising then that Bradford relished politics and public service. In his later years he served as a campaign adviser to Pat Buchanan , and President Reagan nominated Bradford to be chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Reagan apparendy enjoyed Bradford's Reviews 79 legendary conversational and storytelling skills but eventually had to back down from appointing him due to fierce pressure from his opponents. Bradford's literary gifts were astonishing. He wrote books of admirable erudition on southern literature, political philosophy, American history, and contemporary politics. One former student of his, Benjamin Alexander, perceived Bradford as "an American version of SamuelJohnson." No doubt die resistance Bradford engendered from the American intellectual establishment was exacerbated by his powerful critique of the Lincoln cult. McClellan reminds us diat Bradford considered Lincoln "die American Caesar of his age." Garry Wills admitted to die accuracy of Bradford's comments, and said also diat Bradford was "suicidally frank." The most thoroughgoing work of literary criticism that Bradford attempted was his Generation ofthe FaithfulHeart, comprising essays on the literature of his native South. His close readings ofTate, Faulkner, Davidson, Welty, and Walker Percy are masterful exercises in the New Criticism he learned at Vanderbilt. All the southern writers Bradford championed show in various ways a concern with die writer's participation within his community, or what St. Augustine termed "a gathering of rational individuals united by accord on loved tilings held in common ." Bradford loved to say, "No one is anyone unless he belongs," and he believed diat his beloved teacher Donald Davidson's "The Tall Men" was superior to Eliot's "The Waste Land." (At the time of his deadi, Bradford was working on a biography of Davidson.) Bradford's defense of die provincial in literature, however, was not simply a matter of defending soudiern writers with Agrarian credentials. One of Bradford's finest pieces of criticism is his essay on the New Englander Robert Frost. Bradford began his career as a literary scholar, and he never did abandon the vocation. Instead, he continued to draw upon it to complement his political and historical inquiries. In literature, he came to value mostwhat Edmund Burke, one ofhis intellectual predecessors, called "die Moral Imagination." Thomas Landess, an old Bradford friend, provides a valuable portrait ofBradford's days during his growth as an intellectual as a student in die Vanderbilt English department in the 1950s. We...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 79-81
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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