“For a century after losing the Civil War, the South was America’s own colonial backwater — ‘not quite a nation within a nation, but the next thing to it,’ W.J. Cash wrote in his classic 1941 study, ‘The Mind of the South’….
“Cash has this description of ‘the South at its best’: ‘proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal.’ These remain qualities that the rest of the country needs and often calls on. The South’s vices — ‘violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas’ — grow particularly acute during periods when it it is marginalized and left behind. An estrangement between the South and the rest of the country would bring out the worst in both — dangerous insularity in the first, smug self-deception in the second.”
— From “Southern Discomfort” by George Packer in The New Yorker (Jan. 21, 2013)
“About that ‘sentimental’ crack: thinking it over, I have an idea that what inspired that carelessly thrown-off judgment was the feeling that your ‘good’ characters were shadowy.
“On reflection, I think the feeling may have proceeded less from themselves than from the fact that they were set beside that flamboyant wench, Scarlett. There were good women all over the place in the South, of course. But Scarlett is a female to go along with Becky Sharp [in “Vanity Fair”], wholly vivid and convincing. Beside her everybody else in the book, including even Butler, seems almost an abstraction.
“I hope you don’t mind my saying it; I know how stupid the judgments of others on his creation sometimes seem to a writer. Indeed, I am often madder at the critics who are trying to be kind than at those obviously out to do me dirt.”
— “Like no-one else’s, Mr. Taylor’s music distills a primal American yearning that can never be completely satisfied….”
— Descendant adds color to “Arrangement in Black and White.”
— “He will not be hanged until the mail train comes through tomorrow.”
— Lost Cause was lost on W. J. Cash.
— “We left Wilmington… to witness and, if allowed, to participate in the bombardment of Fort Sumter”…. Road trip!
“At Wake Forest [W. J. Cash] became… a fan of H. L. Mencken, the acerbic Baltimore journalist who’d derided the South as ‘the Sahara of the Bozart’…. He wanted to write for Mencken’s magazine, American Mercury. In 1929 [it] published his Menckenesque dismantling of U.S. Sen. Furnifold Simmons…. ‘the stateliest Neanderthaler who ever cooled his heels on a Capitol Hill desk’….
“Other articles in the Mercury would follow, including an indignant portrayal of Charlotte as a citadel of bigotry and Babbitry, besotted by Presbyterianism and in love with Duke Power Co., a city where life for many consisted of ‘a dreary ritual of the office, golf and the church’ that is ‘unbearably dull even for Presbyterians.’