Why did Andrew Hudgins choose to write about Sidney Lanier in After the Lost War: A Narrative?
Andrew Hudgins, using the voice of the long-dead Civil War solider (musician, teacher, lawyer, etc.) Lanier, wrote After the Lost Ware: A Narrative. He may have chosen to write about Sidney Lanier specifically because of his connections to the South, especially Alabama—this detail may have sparked a connection (on Hudgins' part) between the two.
[Hudgins] book, After the Lost War: A Narrative (1988), explores the post-bellum South entirely through poet Sidney Lanier's voice, following the Confederate soldier and poet from the first years of the war to [Lanier's] death.
Though Lanier was born in Macon, Georgia, he is still strongly associated with Alabama. Lanier was a poet, writer and musician; he fought during the Civil War for the South; and, died at forty, never completely recovering from his war wounds—suffering from tuberculosis which he contracted while in a Union prison where he spent five months after being captured.
After the war, Lanier moved to Alabama where he was a principal at a school, played music for a church there, and even studied for and passed the Alabama bar. He moved back to Georgia, passed the bar there and practiced, and moved again to Maryland, performing as a first-seat flutist, and teaching literature at John Hopkins University.
Andrew Hudgins is described as a poet who writes in the tone of the South:
is a critically acclaimed poet whose work is permeated with the images, diction, and motifs of the South in general and especially Alabama...
Ironically, Hudgins graduated from Sidney Lanier High School before turning to undergraduate studies. The beauty and/or genius of the books is the essence of its protagonist that Hudgins is able to capture.
After the Lost War: A Narrative...documents the life of poet/musician Sidney Lanier, who fought for the Confederate Army before working professionally as a musician...There is absolutely no reason that this book could not have been written and published in 1919, or 1909, or 1899 (it actually came out in 1988.) Hudgins is both conserving a bygone era and conserving a specific character that dwelt in this landscape. It is a fractured, war-torn, bitter landscape, that nonetheless offers much in the way of sensual richness.
Hudgins grew up around the persona of Sidney Lanier, who is considered an Alabaman by many. Hudgins went to a school named for him, and it is perhaps at this time that Hudgins becme interested in this man. When he writes the "Narrative," his purpose is to catch the essence of Lanier—who lived during the Civil War. Other than traveling through time, Hudgins seems to have felt a connection with Lanier and used Lanier's voice and experiences to paint a picture of life in the South. The kinship he felt with this Confederate solider may well have created a bond across the years: Lanier's voice enabled Hudgins to write about things in which he was interested—things of the past. And perhaps in Lanier's history, he found himself most at home.