After Southern Modernism: Fiction of the Contemporary South by Matthew Guinn

By Matthew Guinn

The literature of the modern South may well top be understood for its discontinuity with the literary previous. At odds with traditions of the Southern Renascence, southern literature of this day sharply refutes the Nashville Agrarians and stocks few of Faulkner's and Welty's matters approximately position, neighborhood, and heritage.

This sweeping research of the literary South's new course specializes in 9 good tested writers who, through breaking clear of the firmly ensconced myths, have emerged as an iconoclastic generation--Harry Crews, Dorothy Allison, Bobbie Ann Mason, Larry Brown, Kaye Gibbons, Randall Kenan, Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy, and Barry Hannah. Resisting the modernist equipment of the prior, they've got validated their very own postmodern floor past the shadow in their predecessors.

This shift in authorial point of view is an important indicator of the way forward for southern writing. Crews's seminal position as a ground-breaking "poor white" writer, Mason's and Crews's portrayals of rural existence, and Allison's and Brown's frank portrayals of the decrease category pose a problem to standard depictions of the South. The dissenting voices of Gibbons and Kenan, who concentrate on gender, race, and sexuality, create fiction that's straight away identifiably "southern" and likewise relatively subversive. Gibbons's iconoclastic stance towards patriarchy, just like the outsider's critique of neighborhood present in Kenan's paintings, proffers a portrait of the South unheard of within the region's literature. Ford, McCarthy, and Hannah each one technique the South's conventional notions of historical past and group with new irreverence and deal with usual southern subject matters in a noticeably postmodern demeanour. even if via Ford's familiar buyer panorama, the haunted netherworld of McCarthy's southern novels, or Hannah's riotous burlesque of the Civil conflict, those authors assail the philosophical and cultural foundations from which the Southern Renascence arose.

Challenging the traditional conceptions of the southern canon, it is a provocative and leading edge contribution to the region's literary study.

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Her birth certificate is an emblem of the state's power over people of her class, of the rigid social distinctions that seem to work only to the detriment of the poor. To be branded a bastard is to confirm the expectations society has of Bone's people,- it reinforces the ideology behind the term "white trash," comfortably separating those in higher positions from the masses below. Bone's mother, Annie, is aware of the significance of the birth certificate: "Mama hated to be called trash, hated the memory of every day she'd ever spent bent over other people's peanuts and strawberry plants while they stood tall and looked at her like she was a rock on the ground.

What was I going to do in five years? Work in the textile mill? Join Mama at the diner? It all looked bleak to me. No wonder people got crazy as they grew up" (178). Bone has little reason to adopt a more hopeful view of her future. She has witnessed her mother's perpetual fatigue, sadness, and fear throughout her short life and sees a similar fate as ineluctable. All of her efforts to escape poverty and ignominy seem to be inconsequential in the face of an omnipotent and inflexible class system.

Bone's education—her passage to maturity—is not an exercise in free will at all but an initiation into a social hierarchy that allows her no autonomy or selfdetermination. A successor to Crews's grit emigre novels, Bastard answers the promise of geographical mobility with a bleak depiction of social stasis, yet it also signals a new hostility to the southern class system—the beginnings of a deconstructive approach to Arcady. The social status of Allison's characters is foregrounded through Bone's perception.

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