This seminal book of literary criticism challenges the common perception that the culture of white Southerners springs from English, or Anglo-Norman, roots. Mr. Cantrell presents persuasive historical and literary evidence that it was the South’s Celtic—Irish, Scots, Welsh, or Scots-Irish—settlers who had the greatest influence on Southern culture, and their vibrant spirit is still felt today.
Mr. Cantrell targets William Gilmore Simms as the most important antebellum Southern writer and devotes an entire chapter to his work. Among writers published after the Civil War, he focuses on Ellen Glasgow, Caroline Gordon, and the Agrarians. William Faulkner’s writing receives special attention, especially the Gaelic influences on Thomas Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! Unlike some literary theorists, Mr. Cantrell takes Gone with the Wind seriously as he dissects Margaret Mitchell’s Southern epic. He uses the history of Irish Christianity in his explanation of Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away. Among contemporary writers, Pat Conroy and James Everett Kibler each merit a chapter for their use of their Celtic heritage in their books.
About the Author
James P. Cantrell is a native of Warren County who currently lives in Germantown, Tennessee, with his wife of twenty years and their two sons. He learned the Gaelic and Cymric languages in order to specialize in Irish literature while working for his MA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Cantrell later earned his PhD in American literature with an emphasis on Southern literature from the University of Arkansas. He has also written the foreword for Pelican’s new edition of The Clansman by Thomas Dixon, Jr.
HOW CELTIC CULTURE INVENTED SOUTHERN LITERATURE
By James P. Cantrell
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
288 pp. 6 x 9
Notes Biblio. Index