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As one observes the literary developments in the South- 
ern States of to-day the most noticeable feature is the many 
small and disconnected efforts being made to present a liter- 
ary appearance. Within a very few years a number of small 
magazines of a general character have been started in dif- 
ferent large cities, while here and there energetic college 
professors have founded magazines of a technical, historical, 
or critical nature, and have gathered about themselves small 
but interested circles of writers and readers. Newspapers, 
too, endeavor to print a more readable page, and, while striv- 
ing to give the reader an intelligently written and pleasing 
account of the world's doings, fortunately have escaped the 
wild, sensational, fantastic articles of the Northern Sunday 
sheet. Conservatism has thus been in some ways a blessing. 

Nor does the South of to-day lack entirely for writers. A 
surprisingly large number of magazine writers are Southern- 
ers; well-known editors of Southern birth are numerous, and 
books by Southern men and women are now commonly found 
among the "best sellers" of the month. The majority of 
these writers, however, go to the North, achieve their suc- 
cess in the North, remain in the North; and some, living no 
longer in the home land, seemingly forget the old surround- 
ings and cease to write a note of Southern flavor. Of course 
the South may claim all of these ; but when all is said, how lit- 
tle does the literature of America depend for its existence 
upon the South! 

What is needed? What must be done for the cause of 
literature in these States? How shall its influence, scope, 
and value be enlarged? Suggestion after suggestion has 
been made. The undoubted value of public libraries has been 
mentioned; some have argued the need of a great Southern 
magazine, and lately some have taken the erroneous view 

464 The Sewanee Review. 

that a Southern publishing house is the prime necessity. 
Surely the latter idea is wrong. Can the location of a printing 
press vitally affect a literature? There can be no doubt 
as to the answer. A piece of English literature might be 
printed in Russia and still be English literature. A produc- 
tion of the South might be published in Canada and still be 
a Southern work. It matters little, this question of place. 
True, we need a strong magazine to be in close touch with 
Southern sentiments and interests, but surely Southern let- 
ters can thrive without that. A publishing house which 
would study the needs and opportunities of the South would 
be helpful, but is it absolutely essential? These are but aids; 
they do not strike to the root of the trouble. The great need 
for the production of literature in the Southern States is a 
Southern reading public. 

The true strength of a church lies not in its pastor; the 
real power of a company is not in its captain. The rank and 
file at last decide every conquest. A few writers, a strong 
magazine, a great publishing house, cannot create a literature 
in the South. The common people, and they alone, can make 
it possible. The main trouble has been, and is yet, that too 
few Southerners read books. A certain class read the news- 
papers and can discuss politics fairly well, but literature — they 
know it not. It is as impossible under such conditions to 
create a literature as it is to sustain one. 

What, then, must the South have? Above all else, it must 
have a numerous average citizenship that can discern and 
appreciate good literature. Prejudice must go. The South- 
erner must be able and willing to recognize a good work, 
whether by a foreigner or a native of his own country, a 
Northerner or a Southerner, a white man or a black man; 
and, more important still, he must be able to see the true 
literary size and importance of his own section. Because a 
work is by a man of the South, he must not laud it as a master- 
piece. Let every Southern writer be encouraged, but let 
him ever be compared with the world's standard and not be 
puffed up with the vanity of sectionalism. Alas for the vain- 
glorious local poet! Nearly every Southern State has its 

One Phase of Literary Conditions in the South. 463 

own anthology, and therein are gathered the priceless gems 
of her aspiring sons and daughters. Bound in elegant cov- 
ers, it takes a prominent place in the school library, while 
Milton and Tennyson repose in dusty obscurity. Thus the 
true proportions of literary excellence are lost sight of, and 
literature becomes a local thing and ceases to be literature. 

With these evils perceived, the main problem is their cor- 
recting. How shall we secure an intelligent, discerning, liter- 
ature-loving public? Writers of Southern birth can no more 
create it than they can a Southern literature without it. 
Southern publications and Southern publishing houses are 
equally helpless. Whence cometh our help? The burden 
lies mainly upon one class of citizens — the Southern public 
school teacher. He of all persons possesses the enviable op- 
portunity of making lovers of literature. The college pro- 
fessor can but aid; for when the public school sends to him 
these rapidly maturing students totally indifferent to the 
glories of letters, and indeed ignorant of the most general 
literary facts, he can do little toward changing the callous 

But the school-teacher may mold the gentle mind. He 
may read the best to his students; he may place the best 
before them; he may talk of the best to them; he may compel 
them to read only the best during school hours. The very 
state of being with the best will lift the boy and girl. Man 
cannot live with gods and be a brute. Time will cause mar- 
velous changes in the tastes of the students, and under such 
conditions they not only will love the best but will crave a 
wider knowledge of the great figures and forces in literature. 
Then, when such a fortunate state exists, there will no longer 
occur the humiliating sight of students knocking for ad- 
mittance to Southern colleges and yet unable to write their 
application in decent English. Then, also, we shall cease to 
see the still more dismal scene of students struggling with 
the philology of the English language and yet ignorant of 
the basic facts of its literature. 

But such a time awaits the coming of the literature-loving 
teacher. And how few are such instructors ! The man who 

q66 The Seivanee Reviezv. 

drums rules of grammar into children's heads is not a teacher 
of English. Too many monstrosities in the grammatical 
way are already abroad in the land. Full many a teacher 
of the South can boast with the old North Carolina peda- 
gogue that he can parse every word in "Paradise Lost," and 
"can take the English language by the tail and crack 
it like a whip." What can such a man know of the glories 
of Milton? Mere grammar and rhetoric will not create liter- 
ature lovers. The placing of good books before the school 
child, and the compelling him to read them or none, count 
in the end for far more than a glib knowledge of cases and 
tenses. So long as the grammar is master of the pedagogue, 
the cause of literature will suffer. Let us have books, good 
books, the masterpieces. A campaign for good reading 
among Southern children is one of the crying needs of the 
hour. When the South has reading children, it will have a 
reading public; when it has a reading public, the magazines 
and publishing houses will come as a consequence. Above 
all else, it will have a literature. 

Such, then, are some of the literary conditions in Southern 
States. There are some writers; there are some small ven- 
tures in magazines; there is a large class of poorly prepared, 
poorly paid teachers; and overshadowing all with its dismal 
cloud is the vast public of blacks and whites who know noth- 
ing of literature, who have no opportunity to know of it, and 
who do not care to know of it. This is the indifferent but 
destructive enemy of letters in the South. It creates no 
literature; it demands none. It spreads its vast wings be- 
tween the sun of ability and the field of opportunity, and 
the seeds of literature die for nourishment. Until this blight- 
ing force is driven away, the South can expect no great pro- 
duction. For Literature does not spring from Ignorance. 
When the actual public of the South can read and wants to 
read, thinks and is eager to find its thoughts expressed, then, 
and then only, will a literature characteristic and worthy of 
Southern life, sentiments, thoughts, and passions be brought 
forth. Carl Holliday.