A decade and more has passed since the first publication of Still Rebels, Still Yankees. During that time the book has become recognized as a classic affirmation of the necessity of tradition in conserving cultural order.
Donald Davidson, a major figure in the Agrarian Movement, summed up the intent of the work this way:
“The general theme that binds the essaysno matter what their specific subjectsis the conflict between tradition and anti-tradition that characterizes modern society, with tradition viewed as the living continuum that makes society and civilization possible and anti-tradition as the disintegrative principle that destroys society and civilization in the name of science and progress. The South, which has suffered most in its devoted defense of tradition, naturally offers me examples for consideration; but this is not a book about the South as such. It is as near as I can come, in essay form, to defining what I would conceive to be the true American position.”
In a brilliant and graceful style, Davidson pursues his theme in a rich variety of subjects: poetry, myth, and folklore; and in the complex rivalries between nation and region, the free citizen and the Leviathan state, the values of religion and the facts of science.
Order, sanity, and fullness of life are cornerstones of the tradition against which he appraises writers like Hardy and John Gould Fletcher, the historiography of Toynbee, and the social reporting of W. J. Cash.
About the Author
Donald Davidson, who died in 1968, was a distinguished teacher, critic, and poet. Often called the "Dean of the Agrarians," he was for many years professor of English at Vanderbilt University.
Lewis P. Simpson (1916-2005) was Boyd Professor and William A. Read Professor of English, emeritus, at Louisiana State University. Among his many books are The Man of Letters in New England and the South; The Dispossessed Garden; The Brazen Face of History: Studies in the Literary Consciousness in America; Mind and the American Civil War: A Meditation on Lost Causes; and The Fable of the Southern Writer. He was a founding member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, president of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, and coeditor of the Southern Review from the inauguration of the New Series in 1965 until his retirement in 1987.