Allen Tate Essay - Tate, (John Orley) Allen (Vol. 9)

Tate, (John Orley) Allen (Vol. 9)

Tate, (John Orley) Allen 1899–

An American poet, critic, novelist, and man of letters, Tate was one of the foremost spokesmen of the New Criticism movement. A highly personal and Christian poet, Tate is essentially an agrarian, regionalist writer of the American South. Best known for his Ode to the Confederate Dead, Tate sees the South, past and present, in mythical contexts that parallel the Roman Republic, Sparta, and the feudal society of the Middle Ages. (See also CLC, Vols. 2, 4, 6, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.)

Allen Tate is the kind of man of letters who is vanishing from the American scene. He has remained a central figure for more than half a century because of his impressive body of poetry, his classical learning, his intellectual integrity, and his friendships with many of the most important writers of the century….

Tate's years with the Fugitives become very memorable in essays about his close relationships with members of that circle, principally Donald Davidson, Robert Penn Warren, and John Crowe Ransom. Each is treated separately, and Tate's memory tends to be precise and selective; we are given just enough about each one [in Memoirs and Opinions]. We are treated to penetrating observations about men trained as classical scholars, men who were direct with one another and who shared many common traditions and ideals—Tate calls them literae humaniores. Tate, the only undergraduate at Vanderbilt invited to join the early meetings of the Fugitives, is in a perfect historical position to describe the group, and future researchers will have to take his views into account. (p. 600)

Six years after he graduated from Vanderbilt, Tate received a Guggenheim and was well on his way to a life of literary distinction. No sooner had he arrived in Paris than he was immediately ushered into the salon of Gertrude Stein and other figures living in Paris in the late 1920s. Tate describes "Miss Toklas' American Cake" and several well-known personalities of the era, and his Paris memories are among the most candid in print. He was an equal among equals: he spent time with Sylvia Beach, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, although he admits that "I couldn't bring myself to tell what was wrong with my friends—or even mere acquaintances—without trying to tell what was wrong with myself," and says of Hemingway's revelations in A Moveable Feast, "I couldn't have known then he was the complete son of a bitch who would later write about certain friends." Tate, a southern gentleman, chooses to remember more positive attributes of his friends without in any way becoming sentimental.

Memoirs and Opinions represents a departure in tone and style from previous Tate books, as befits a man remembering such colleagues as John Peale Bishop, St. John Perse, and T. S. Eliot, the latter of whom represents a kind of cultural hero to Tate. The less formal tone is continued in the essays Tate chooses to revive, essays that are not concerned with "poetry and fiction as actualizations of culture" but with a "less severe purpose." His "opinions" cover Frost as a metaphysical poet, Hart Crane's "White Buildings" (a 1926 essay that retains considerable authority and power), the poetry of Poe and Valéry, and other commentaries on Faulkner, Henry James, and Joyce. Like Edmund Wilson's work, Tate's criticism transcends itself and becomes art in its own right. (pp. 600, 602)

William F. Claire, in The American Scholar (copyright © 1976 by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa; reprinted by permission of the publishers), Vol. 45, No. 4, Autumn, 1976.

[Considering the relation of the imagination to the actual world is Tate's] characteristic theme, his signature, the motif and motive of his entire work in poetry, fiction, and criticism…. [Among] the several forms or types of imagination there is one which has a special claim to our respect. Tate calls it the symbolic imagination, or alternatively the literal imagination, contrasting it with the unliteral imagination which he dislikes. Under any name it refers to the full human consciousness engaged with the actual world. Tate speaks of "the symbolic dimension rooted firmly in a literal image or statement that does not need the symbolic significance in order to be immediately understood." I put that description beside another one in which Tate, in the course of saying that "it is the business of the symbolic poet to return to the order of temporal sequence—to action," goes on to specify what that return means:

His purpose is to show men experiencing whatever they may be capable of, with as much meaning as he may be able to see in it; but the action comes first. Shall we call this the Poetic Way? It is at any rate the way of the poet, who has got to do his work with the body of this world, whatever that body may look like to him, in his time and place—the whirling atoms, the body of a beautiful woman, or a deformed body, or the body of Christ, or even the body of this death.

Tate does not mean to say that the imagination which has such a burden to sustain must sustain it with its bare hands. The imagination is pretentious or otherwise imprudent if it too flagrantly declares its independence: it should resort for aid to the natural world, the world's body, to the sensory powers which feed perception, and to the poetic image—what Auerbach calls the figura, by which the action of analogy may be realized. The imagination is not alone; it should not worship a false idol in the cult of its own isolation. (pp. 698-99)

[The] theory, persuasive as it is, is merely an abstraction drawn from the experience of certain classic moments in Tate's response to literature. He has always been more devoted to poems than to poetry, and to particular achievements in language than to language itself. He derives his theory from a response to many practices and an inclination of temper to discriminate between them. His theory of the symbolic imagination is drawn from many occasions on which he has seen it at work and delighted in its manifestations…. [When] Tate speaks of the relation between imagination and the actual world, he is concerned with the poet only as a particular instance of a general situation. The poet differs from the rest of us only in degree, not in kind. To speak of the poetic imagination is merely to name one of the human possibilities and to deny that it is a freak of nature. Poetry is only in a mechanical sense an exception to a rule, the sense which tells us that relatively few people write verses. It is rather an extreme instance, a faculty more readily visible in extremity than in a norm. Equally, a poet's imagination differs from anyone else's only in degree and bearing. So the symbolic imagination is an extreme instance of something which is available to everyone as an attitude to life, a particular response, a stance of expectation. If Tate sponsors a particular type of imagination, then, it is not primarily for the sake of poets or of poetry. (pp. 699-700)

It is my impression that Tate offers the symbolic imagination as the best way of fathoming and performing our natures, perhaps the only way. He has never permitted us to escape from the responsibility of the human image, and especially from the duties we acknowledge by admitting that we are finite and historical. This does not require us to live as though the daily round were everything; we are not obliged to capitulate before the brash rhetoric of positivism. But it is a condition of our freedom, including the freedom of the imagination, that we acknowledge in the human situation the ground of that freedom and the ground of our beseeching. Henry James remarked of Flaubert "the strange weakness of his mind, his puerile dread of the grocer, the bourgeois, the sentiment that in his generation and the preceding misplaced, as it were, the spirit of adventure and the sense of honour." I think Tate would urge us not to be afraid of the grocer, but to register the continuities and rituals which bind together "all the living and the dead." (pp. 704-05)

Tate's most sustained parable of solipsism and modern self-consciousness is "Last Days of Alice," a ferocious poem which features the grinning cat quivering "forever with his abstract rage," Alice gazing "learnedly down her airy nose/At nothing, nothing thinking all the day," and sundry references to "the weight of impassivity," "incest of spirit," and "theorem of desire." It is an easy and useful rule when reading Tate to hover upon any words which depend for their force upon strategic division or severance, such words as essence, theorem, abstract, and geometry. (p. 708)

If I have interpreted Tate correctly when his theme is the symbolic imagination, I think he means that the imagination seeks an engagement with objects such that the plenitude of the experience will certify the plenitude of each participant, subject, and object. Object and feeling are to be reconciled, and for that reason the imagination which promotes the reconciliation is symbolic.

Tate's poems, therefore, testify to acts of consciousness as complete as he has been able to make them, the scale of the effort is nearly as inspiring as the record of the achievement. The chief labor of the poems is to establish between Tate's subject matter and its emergence as form a relation adequately serious. The density of his poems is a measure of their responsibility, an indication of what, in the way of consciousness and care, they have been through. What the poems seek is direct access to experience through its occasions and by means of its forms. In "The Mediterranean" Tate writes: "They, in a wineskin, bore earth's paradise." The wineskin is more important than the paradise because it is the means available and paradise depends upon luck and grace. In "To the Lacedemonians" he speaks of "the bright course of blood along the vein"—again a given resource—valued because given. Tate's poems invoke things as though he were unwilling to release them from the responsibility of their meaning, that is, the full weight of their implication in place and time. He will not let objects go their own way if it means disengaging them from their pact with men. When things are invoked, therefore, they come not as they are generally taken to be in a time abstract, positivist, devoid of memory—a time in which "the hard eyes look one way," and faces are "eyeless with eyesight only." Rather, Tate instructs objects to engage with the perceiver's mind in such a way as to arrive freighted with human value and moment. This is to say that the seriousness of Tate's enterprise depends upon a sustaining continuity of sense, perception, and imagination. The poems are, in that respect, acts of consciousness. So in thinking of these poems and in responding to them, we often remark that Tate's proceedings are the common, ordinary processes, but they are taken up with such care that they are enriched and deepened beyond anything commonly available. If we think of them as forms of communication, we are not satisfied until we have deepened the term and called it communion; if we think of his poems of memory, we deepen the term and call it commemoration. (pp. 708-09)

Like any other poet, he delights in possibility, amplitude, open spaces, and free ranges. He claims the freedom of inquiring how much meaning a proposed situation will bear. This is the side of Tate most dramatically represented by his response to Arthur Rimbaud and Eliot, his kinship with Hart Crane. In that mood, the sky is the limit. But Tate has nearly always admitted a scruple. The fact that an effect is linguistically possible does not make it reasonable. There is a question of cogency. Has he not warned us and himself against the gross indulgence of feeling, will, and intellect? The warning is explicit when Tate writes as a critic. When he writes as a novelist or a poet, he concentrates the triple admonition into a scruple of form. It is his sense of form that prevents him from rushing into excess: poetry, he has written, "is the art of apprehending and concentrating our experience in the mysterious limitations of form." The symbolic imagination, as distinct from the essential imagination ascribed to angels, is content with the human range of experience as its substance, and the human range of form as its means. This does not make an aesthetic for slaves but for free men who know that their freedom is not unlimited: it makes an aesthetic good enough for anyone who is neither barbarian nor fanatic.

Tate's aesthetic does not, of course, make poems. In poetry nearly everything can go wrong, whether it is propelled by good or bad intentions: this is not an argument against making the intentions good. Several elements go into the making of a poem, and if one of them goes askew the damage is done. In any case, the elements are not enough. Events are only potential experience, as the imagination is only potential creation, the will only potential action, and language only potential speech. It is their juncture in achieved form that makes all of them actual. When a poem by Tate falls short of conviction, it is because the experience has been realized and mastered only to the extent represented by its turbulence, and the language has stuck at that point—whirling as in a vortex. The proof of an achieved poem is its song, that is, its rhythm and movement. (pp. 710-11)

If we want a poem all conviction, I suggest Tate's "Mother and Son," too long to quote but hardly too long to memorize. Upon a "firmly denoted natural setting" Tate has imagined and brooded to the point at which the experience has been mastered, the language tuned. The mother is given as ferocious and importunate: the phrases attached to her include "hand of death," "fierce compositor," "falcon mother," "harsh command," "dry fury," "black crucifix," and "cold dusk." The substance of the poem is friction, which is another kind of dissociation, and for brevity's sake we can say that the substance is continuous with that of Tate's novel, The Fathers. Common to both the poem and the novel is a represented violence of feeling, the characters are immured in their own extremity. Apart from the difference of scale, there is this further difference that the dissociation in The Fathers is only partly categorical and is mostly social and political. In the poem the dissociation is aboriginal; it operates at a level beneath that of cause and effect…. [The] achieved form, the poem itself, can bear as much weight as we elect to place upon it, because of the denoted natural scene, the human situation itself. It is this consideration which ensures that the fiction is convincing and not arbitrary. If fiction is like statute law, Tate is content to make his fictions continuous with the common law we all acknowledge, even when we disobey it…. The details in Tate's poem are significant because of the low level of being they share, the death-in-life and life-in-death they share with mother and son. But they have a further purpose. The abused feelings between mother and son are not resolved by anything that is shown to happen, but held in tension by the narrator, the witness who addresses the son in the last stanza, "O heart." The details stand for the narrator's feeling, since they are what he has chosen to notice. Just as the mother and son are types, with enough contingency to be actual, so the details are types because of the categoribal relation for which the narrator's feeling requires them. The details—the flies, spider, and wallpaper—are what they are, and they are also what they become, emblems of the narrator's feeling. They are significant not only because he has noticed them but because his feeling is such that he has not noticed anything else. (pp. 711-13)

Denis Donoghue, "Nuances of a Theme by Allan Tate," in The Southern Review (copyright, 1976, by Denis Donoghue), Vol. XII, No. 4, Autumn, 1976, pp. 698-713.

In the early 1950s,… I undertook to write an essay about Allen Tate's poetry which I entitled "The Serpent in the Mulberry Bush," and in which I sought to demonstrate how the "Ode to the Confederate Dead" was his way of focusing his feelings about the South, modern society, history, and personal allegiance into the image of a poem. I did so, I think, with only limited success, so far as understanding that complex poem was concerned, but if all criticism is autobiography, then for my part this engagement with the "Ode" was a considerable success, for it drew me into my first sustained attempt at working out both the problem of the relationship of southern literature to southern experience, and the larger problem of the relationship of literature to history and society. For these reasons and others I have found myself coming back to that poem again and again, with a deepening sense both of my obligation to its author and of the facile inadequacy of my initial published response to it. I have been unable to put it by, and now I shall take another crack at it, with the hope of repairing the damage, not to the poem itself, which is immune to what critics such as myself might do or say, but to my own explication. I propose, therefore, to essay the "Serpent in the Mulberry Bush" once more. (p. 744)

In October of 1925 Tate published an article in the Nation, entitled "Last Days of a Charming Lady," in which he surveyed the lack of a vigorous literary tradition in the South. The region's antebellum literary culture, he said, had been the unventuresome, eighteenth-centuryish, energyless charm of an aristocracy of social privilege founded in a rigid social order…. The surviving southern aristocracy had "no tradition of ideas, no consciousness of moral and spiritual values, as an inheritance; it has simply lost a prerogative based on property." There had been, in the northern Virginia and Charleston areas of the Old South, societies distinguished for graces of living, if not for literary achievement, but these were going fast. Thus the present-day southern author was without a foundation in regional self-inquiry, and if he was to make out of his own openness to experience and readiness to explore new forms, a literature that would speak to his southern circumstance, he would have to do it from without: by making use of the cosmopolitan culture of western Europe. "It is pretty certain," he concluded, "that the Southern variety of American writer must first see himself, if at all, through other eyes. For he, of all Americans, is privy to the emotions founded in the state of knowing himself to be a foreigner at home."

The diagnosis, of course, not only fitted Tate's case …, but it stated, topically and matter-of-factly, the central anguish that "Ode to the Confederate Dead" would explore: the final sentence is almost a precis of the situation in the poem. (pp. 746-47)

If the watcher at the Confederate cemetery gate is a modern southerner, who sees the inroads of nature on the tombstones of the once-proud soldiers of the Lost Cause, and ironically meditates upon the seeming likeness of the soldiers to the leaves insofar as the natural world is concerned (the wind which "whirrs without recollection"), then what he confronts is the absence of any lasting meaning to the tradition other than what human memory might afford. But if so, the leaves piling up alongside the graves suggest the neglect of the graves by the living, too. Autumn or not, it is not a well-tended cemetery. In other words, the modern southerner, whom we may assume is the poet, ponders his historical tradition and its erosion, and this is the situation with which the poem will concern itself.

Tate called the poem an "Ode," he wrote later, partly out of a sense of irony—neither the classical Pindaric ode nor the seventeenth-century imitation of it would have permitted a purely subjective meditation—a lone man standing by a gate, rather than a public celebration. The poem, for that matter, is not about the dead Confederate soldiers at all; it is about the modern man's sense of being distanced from them. When Tate sent the draft of the poem to Donald Davidson, his fellow Fugitive objected that "the Confederate dead become a peg on which you hang an argument." He admired the craft, but "its beauty is a cold beauty," he said. "And where, O Allen Tate, are the dead? You have buried them completely out of sight—with them yourself and me. God help us, I must say." But that is precisely the point of Tate's poem (and what Tate would do here was precisely what Davidson as artist could neither understand nor approve). Tate was interested not in patriotic homage but in what was ultimately, perhaps, a more important form of tribute: an attempt to understand why one of his fragmented time and place was no longer able to celebrate what the Confederate soldiers had been in their time. His attitude toward that, as Radcliffe Squires notes, was one of despair. Davidson could not envision the backward look as being a problem; Tate for his part knew better.

Therefore, "autumn is desolation" in the cemetery for the man at the gate, who tries to muster the proper memorial rhetoric for the occasion, but cannot sustain it. (pp. 748-49)

For the man at the gate, the attempt to understand appears useless, because the goal is impossible; sealed off from the past, from any hope of his being capable of fathoming how the dead soldiers could have acted meaningfully and believed in their actions, the modern observer has only the ingrained habit of speculation, which will not let him rest. Locked within himself, he can contemplate only himself—"or like the jaguar leaps/For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim." He is the trapped animal of naturalism, whose self-consciousness and capacity for wanting to discover meaning beyond nature only condemn him to frustration and self-hatred. "This figure of the jaguar," Tate wrote, "is the only explicit rendering of the Narcissus motif in the poem, but instead of a youth gazing into a pool, a predatory beast stares at a jungle stream, and leaps to devour himself."

With this despairing conclusion "Ode to the Confederate Dead" might logically have ended—the realization of the total inability of the man at the gate to make anything of his heritage. He had sought to invoke for himself the reality of the Confederate past, had been unable to find in it any meaning that was transferrable to him, and so had ended with a picture of himself as no more than a biological creature, imprisoned within his own sensibility, doomed to return into the nothingness from which he had come. The society in which he had been born and grown up had been importantly formed by that past, but it had been repudiated, and since the repudiation had been in favor of a life without meaning or belief, there could be no place for himself within his own society, either. He would indeed have been, as he said of the southern writer in "Last Days of a Charming Lady," an American "whose emotions were founded upon knowing himself to be a foreigner at home." That is what the poem declares.

But the poem does not end there. There are two more stanzas to come, and they are definitive for both this poem and for what Tate would be thinking and writing in the next decade. Instead of the poem's culminating with the figure of the predatory animal leaping to narcissistic self-destruction, the man at the gate asks another question: "What shall we say who have knowledge/Carried to the heart?"

Tate later explained the figure as follows: "This is Pascal's war between heart and head, between finesse and geometrie." But if the man at the gate and his fellow moderns—those who are concerned with the erosion of the capacity for belief (by no means all of them, to be sure)—have "knowledge carried to the heart," which is to say, possess a sensibility which does not willingly split apart thought and feeling, but would unify them, then the jaguar about to pounce upon his reflection in the water and thus destroy himself will not quite do for the last word on the modern predicament. Instead, it appears that despite the solipsism and failure to be able to act intelligently upon one's deeply-felt convictions, the aptitude for the kind of wholehearted response to life exemplified by the dead Confederate soldiers has not died out. What is missing is not the capacity, but the social circumstance. That is to say, the conditions of contemporary society, the public assumptions, the tenor of everyday twentieth-century economic and social life, serve to prevent the rendering of the True Account. This is the implication—though not the overt conclusion—of the reference to those who "have knowledge/Carried to the heart."

There follows a statement that would seem to belie any likelihood whatever of doing anything about it.

               Shall we take the act
       To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the grave
     In the house? The ravenous grave?

Shall those who are like the man at the gate remain silent and live out their lives with the private knowledge that the condition of the present time is not as it should be? Or shall they, in a romantic affirmation of despair, make a virtue out of hopelessness and consciously celebrate decay and death? This was the way of the fin de siecle, the "Gone with the Wind" school. Southern poetry of the early twentieth century was full of the note, and in some of his early work in the Fugitive Tate had essayed it: the langorous assertion, by a world-weary surviving memorialist, of the death of the gods. (pp. 754-56)

Shall we, he asks in effect, write funereal poems, in which death is made into life, as the only positive response to a world of death-in-life?… He will not seriously consider making that choice, but neither is it to be dismissed as absurd.

Instead Tate closes his poem by leaving the question open:

                Leave now
      The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
      The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
      Riots with his tongue through the hush—
      Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!
                                             (p. 756)

"Ode to the Confederate Dead" does not conclude in blank despair, either historical or moral. "Leave now" the gate and wall that keep us from the spirit of the dead soldiers, he says, and one possible conclusion is that one is to give up the attempt to make any sense of them or of his relationship to them. But if the man at the gate is leaving the Confederate cemetery, he is going back into the city of his time; and what he takes with him, finally, is life: for the serpent, whatever he represents, is indubitably alive and green, which is a very different thing from the splayed leaves piled up in the graveyard. If time is the solution to the riddle, it is an affirmation of continuing life, with its own problems.

The poem, in short, ends with the emblem of life in time and in nature. The gentle serpent is sentinel of the grave. Alive, "rioting with his tongue through the hush," he guards the cemetery and the memory of the dead Confederates from surprise attack…. [It] is not beyond the boundaries of legitimate comment on the poem to suggest what Mr. Squires proposed: that if the man at the gate is a poet, and if (as in a sense, all poems are) this one is about the writing of poetry, then insofar as the future exploration of his own identity in history and society was concerned, the modern poet at the Confederate cemetery gate still had a great deal to write about.

It is not that I am insisting upon a "happy ending" to the anguish in the "Ode to the Confederate Dead." It is not an optimistic poem. But neither is it a surrender to the Waste Land. What it does is to dramatize the difficulty of the present, in terms of Tate's own historical and social concerns. And closing, as it does, with the image of the gentle serpent, the moving, continuing, exploring symbol of life in time, it asserts a continuity of experience that joins past and future as part of the ongoing human problems of meaning and belief. This is what one reader takes, finally, from the poem. (p. 757)

Louis D. Rubin, Jr., "'The Serpent in the Mulberry Bush' Again," in The Southern Review (copyright, 1976, by Louis D. Rubin, Jr.), Vol. 12, No. 4, Autumn, 1976, pp. 744-57.

[George Posey], the chief protagonist in [The Fathers] … is identified with neither an old order nor a new order; he embodies social change while yearning and striving, at the same time, for social stability. (p. 128)

Caught somehow between the past, in the form of a stable social order, and the future, in the form of financial prosperity, George Posey "was a man without people or place; he had strong relationships, and he was capable of passionate feeling, but it was all personal."… It is this "personal" aspect of George Posey's character that conflicts with the decorum of the Buchan family and eventually "destroys the discipline of its civilization." (pp. 129-30)

Lacy Buchan's function as the narrator of The Fathers is significant beyond the basic fact of his own involvement in the events he describes. It is important, first of all, that he grows up, perhaps because of, but at least simultaneously with, the disintegration of his family; this allows him, in his old age, to tell his story realistically and ironically—that is to say, with a degree of emotional and moral detachment…. Lacy is able years later to put the original indiscretions of George Posey—which had once been so dramatic in the past—into a larger, historical perspective. Neither oblivious to time and change, like his father, nor lost in time and change, like George, Lacy can comprehend and express, in his narrative, an existence that is far from timeless. (p. 130)

If Lacy's age as a narrator thus gives him an appreciation of the inevitability of change and disappointment, his youth as a participant in the events of his story gives him an additional importance as the central consciousness of Tate's novel…. It is not just the Civil War, but history itself that is irrepressible in The Fathers, and Lacy's youth gives him a proper sense, for Tate, of the alien and irresistible. His very love for an outsider like George Posey is an indication of the breakdown in the Buchan order…. (pp. 130-31)

[If] George Posey is a "personal" force in a world whose "impersonality" he often cannot accept, it is also clear in The Fathers that he yearns somewhat nostalgically for the lost opportunities of his own youth, for the kind of social order and security represented by the Buchan way of life. (p. 137)

The last act of Lacy's story is an account of George Posey's belated attempt to "be with the men" fighting the war—to make "your people" his people. But, again, George can not act impersonally; as the Battle of Bull Run is about to begin, he is insulted by an old enemy and promptly kills him. Returning, then, to Pleasant Hill, George and Lacy find the old house burned to the ground and Major Buchan dead by his own hand. It is, for George, a final display of the "wilful and arbitrary" absurdity behind the self-destruction of the Buchan family. (p. 140)

George's last gesture is to remove the Confederate uniform (which he leaves, symbolically, in a heap upon the ground) and to ride off, alone, into the growing darkness…. Then, for the first and last time in The Fathers, Lacy the narrator becomes one with Lacy the boy (as the past tense changes to the present): "I'll go back and finish it. I'll have to finish it because he could not finish it. It won't make any difference if I am killed. If I am killed it will be because I love him more than I love any man."… Though it is too late for George himself to change, to turn back the clock, it is not too late, this once, for Lacy in his old age to judge what has happened to him. He must "finish" not only George's attempt to fight in the war, his effort to define himself according to something greater than himself, but he must also, with the acknowledgment of his love, live out his own life as the historical offspring of George's confusion and disorder, as a member of the changing world "that had been created by George Posey, out of the dead world of my mother."… (pp. 140-41)

David C. Stineback, "'The Shock of Communion': Allen Tate's 'The Fathers'," in his Shifting World: Social Change and Nostalgia in the American Novel (© 1976 by Associated University Presses, Inc.), Associated University Presses, 1976, pp. 128-41.