Genre of Southern Fiction by Lewis P. Simpson

Just like the historical consciousness of Renaissance found in Marlowe and Shakespeare, the detailed view of self and history is found in southern fiction. The influence of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Dos Passos along with the consciousness of self and history is fundamentally rooted in southern novels.

In the 1920s and 1930s a group of writing emerged who hated the culture of the modern city. Criticized the commercialism of American society and praised farming traditional of the old south they were the groups of southern poets, novelists and critics known as the fugitives. These fugitives especially John Crowe Ransom ,Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren thought that the modern industrial society is dividing human experience and it is leading society towards dehumanization and so they even satirize as the heard being separated from the body and mind from emotion(feeling).

After the Second World War, especially after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was quite a turn in American Literature. Now the common theme of the American novels (southern or others) became a quest to define a vision of the self’s being in the post modern world. And in the process of doing so, the southern novelists also emphasized that the vision of existence is no more assuredly historical. In simple terms, the southern novelists presented such characters in this post-modern world who deny their own history. There are mainly three figures who stand out among the southern novelists –William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Wetly. Their works represent the richness of the southern fiction.

WILLIAM FAULKNER     Faulkner is a prominent figure of southern fiction who followed modernist techniques but became regionalist in his writing. He created a mythical country in North Mississippi called Yoknopatawpha of which the country seat is Jefferson. From 1925 until his death in 1962 his major novels are based on this fictions world the world of Yoknapatawpha. His mythical Yoknapatawpha country became one of the most famous mini worlds in twentieth century literature. Faulkner’s major issue is the tension between myth and history. Faulkner mixes the mythical tradition and ceremonial world which is the underlying subject of Faulkner’s work. Faulkner novels are divided in to first and second cycles. The first cycle of Yokhapatwpho novels include stories, The sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying , Sanctuary, High in August and Absalom, Absalom .In these novels the major issue is the tension between myth and history . Sartoris is the first novel of Faulkner and the foundation of the Yoknapatawpha country on which the writer established most of his regionalist vision. This novel created background for Faulkner’s further writing presenting an image of Colonel John as the protection for Sartoris/ Yoknapatawpha. Similarly the second cycle of Yoknapatwpha novels include Intrudes in the Dust, Requiem for a Nun, The Town, The Mansion and The Rivers. In these novels, the major issue is to construct a myth of man, which transcendent the history of man’s condition. However the second cycle of Yoknapatwpha novels was not as impressive as the novels of the first. Besides, there is also a non –Yoknapatwpha novel of Faulkner written in 1954-A Fable. This novel is also an amalgam (mixture) of mythical tradition and ceremonial world. But this novel for which Faulkner spent ten long years is the largest non –Yoknapatwpha work counted as his one genuine failure. However from 1950 to 1975 in the post world war age, William Faulkner is among three main figures that stand out among the southern novelists and the remaining two are Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty.

ROBERT PENN WARREN     After Faulkner it was another southern novelist Robert Penn Warren whose aim is to discover the connection between the self and American history. Warren not only hunts for the American self but he also observes the relationship of man with society and finds it be very meaningless. This attitude of Warren makes him a modernist writer.Like all the modernist in his work Warren also tries to resolve the dialects between Good and Bad, Virtue and Vice, Morality and Immorality existing in the society by acknowledging the supremacy of positive and negative go parallel on horizontal he realizes that the relationship is not possible. Therefore the political deadlock is one of the subject matter of his works.Warren believes that history is blind because in society such thing happen which society does not agree with but man is not blind (because he is aware that he should control his self). So man should be concerned at the blindness of history that is the idea of R.P Warren. History is in self or self is in history is Warren’s major exploration. That is why he searches for historical self, and thus, comes to a realization that as history is moving in a fast pace, the ethical self is not possible because there is emptiness rather than belongingness. Thus in Warren’s work we find ambiguity or say the struggle to keep the self open to history and history open to the self . Warren’s famous works are: Night Rider, All Heaven’s Gate, All the King’s Men, Band of Angels, A place to come to.

EUDORA WELTY     Another major figure of the southern novel is Eudora Welty. She is different from Faulkner and Warren because she does not show the tension between myth and history like Faulkner and she does not even show the tension between history and existence like Warren. Drama of resistance to history is the subject of Welty’s major novels like Delta Wedding, The Golden Apples, The optimist’s Daughter. These novels also reflect Welty’s regionalism and her philosophy about time, memory and art. In Welty’s writing, memory plays an important part –the past gets alive in the present through a culture of memory that struggles in the modern history. Her writing therefore is memory paintings based on southern culture that she wishes to establish. In other words survival of the past is the main theme of her writings. But the problem is that her memory discards the so –called history, and because of her ironic tone, memory does not foster itself rather it declines.More than Faulkner and Warren, Welty sees history as a clock –chronology, According to her an artist or novelist creates an art or a novel as ward as well as forward; it does not merely tell the time but penetrates in to it, Hence Welty transforms life in to art through memory. For instance, her Losting Battle is a complete memory that narrates about family reunion where she believes that the decline of memory is the isolation of self.