Other literary forms
James Branch Cabell (KAB-uhl) was both prolific and versatile. In addition to his many novels, he produced a volume of poetry titled From the Hidden Way (1916) and a play, The Jewel Merchants (pb. 1921). His short stories are collected in The Line of Love (1905), Gallantry (1907), Chivalry (1909), and The Certain Hour (1916). Included among his writings are critical volumes on his contemporaries Joseph Hergesheimer and Ellen Glasgow; Taboo (1921), a satire dedicated to Cabell’s nemesis, John S. Sumner, who initiated obscenity charges against Cabell’s novel Jurgen; Some of Us (1930), a defense of the individualism of such writers as Elinor Wylie, Sinclair Lewis, and H. L. Mencken; and The St. Johns (1943), a history of a Florida river written with A. J. Hanna, for Stephen Vincent Benét’s book series titled The Rivers of America.
Perhaps Cabell’s most interesting volumes are those that illuminate his life and literary development. He wrote two epistolary volumes: Special Delivery (1933), which presents both his conventional responses to letters he received and the unconventional replies he would have preferred to send, and Ladies and Gentlemen (1934), a collection of addresses to dead historical figures—from Solomon to George Washington, from Pocahontas to Madame de Pompadour—who have inspired myths and legends. He explores the past of his native region and its impact on his writings in his trilogy “Virginians Are Various,” consisting of Let Me Lie (1947), Quiet, Please (1952), and As I Remember It (1955). Providing readers with insight into Cabell’s art are Beyond Life (1919), which clarifies his values, literary precedents, and thematic concerns; These Restless Heads (1932), a discussion of creativity based on the four seasons of the year; and Straws and Prayer-Books (1924), an explanation of his reasons for writing The Biography of the Life of Manuel. Two volumes of Cabell’s letters have been published: Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others (1962), edited by his second wife, Margaret Freeman Cabell, and Padraic Colum; and The Letters of James Branch Cabell (1975), edited by Edward Wagenknecht. His manuscripts and memorabilia are in the James Branch Cabell Collections at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.