Literature of the New South Criticism: Overviews - Essay

James W. Sewell (essay date 1903)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sewell, James W. “A Closing Summary.” In Southern Writers: Biographical and Critical Studies. Vol. 2, pp. 379-92. Nashville: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, 1903.

[In the following essay, Sewell assesses the work of several Southern fiction writers of the late nineteenth century.]

With the period of recuperation and readjustment which came soon after the Civil War, there began a sort of literary revival in the South. After Sidney Lanier had sung out his life amid barren and unappreciative surroundings, and Irwin Russell, almost unknown, had opened the rich vein of negro dialect and song, the world began to take notice of the possibilities of Southern...

(The entire section is 2698 words.)

Louis D. Rubin, Jr. (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rubin, Louis D. Jr. “Southern Writing, 1865-1920: Introduction.” In Southern Writing, 1585-1920, edited by Richard Beale Davis, C. Hugh Holman, and Louis D. Rubin, Jr., pp. 635-46. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1970.

[In the following essay, Rubin surveys Southern literature of the post-Reconstruction period, concentrating on the local color movement, literary depictions of blacks, and the state of poetry.]

In 1873, Scribner's Monthly sent the journalist Edward King southward to prepare a series of articles for its readers, describing the people and scenes of a region which, its editors said, was “almost as little known to the Northern States of the...

(The entire section is 5497 words.)

J. V. Ridgely (essay date 1980)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ridgely, J. V. “The New South: The Past Recaptured.” In Nineteenth-Century Southern Literature, pp. 89-111. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1980.

[In the following essay, Ridgely presents an overview of Southern literature between 1879 and 1899, emphasizing major figures and works in the era of local color.]

The South's strong resistance during Reconstruction to a complete reordering of its way of life was less valorous than its wartime performance, but it was more successful. As the scars of occupation faded, its writers embarked upon a popular program of sectional justification that would have astonished the editors of scores of dead little...

(The entire section is 9976 words.)

Thomas Richardson (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Richardson, Thomas. “Local Color in Louisiana.” In The History of Southern Literature, edited by Louis D. Rubin, Jr., pp. 199-208. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.

[In the following essay, Richardson describes the work of the major local color writers of the New South.]

When the journalist Edward King visited New Orleans in early 1873 as representative of “The Great South” series for Scribner's, he discovered more for his Northern audience than he or his editors, J. G. Holland and R. W. Gilder, could have expected. “Louisiana to-day is Paradise Lost,” he wrote. “In twenty years it may be Paradise Regained. … It is the...

(The entire section is 4314 words.)

Richard Gray (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gray, Richard. “The New South, the Lost Cause, and the Recovered Dream.” In Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region, pp. 75-121. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

[In the following excerpt, Gray concentrates on developments in the literature of the New South from the romance and nostalgia of early writers, to the cultural expressions of Sidney Lanier's poetry and the autobiographical satire of Mark Twain.]


If there was one thing most travellers in the South were agreed on just after the Civil War, it was that the old economic and political system of the region had...

(The entire section is 14749 words.)

Kenneth Wayne Howell (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Howell, Kenneth Wayne. “Dixie Historiography Unchained: Old South, New South, or No South?” Southern Studies 7, no. 4 (1996): 21-52.

[In the following excerpt, Howell summarizes modern historical assessments of the New South, focusing on such themes as Southern distinctiveness, identity, industrialization, economics, populism, and race relations.]

The history of the New South is a diverse and ever growing field of study that continues to capture the attention of scholars and laymen alike.1 Historians have labored diligently to explain why the South seems to be distinctively different from the rest of the United States. In their efforts to...

(The entire section is 4872 words.)