Friday, July 3, 2015

Currently Reading

In 1979 Robert Penn Warren returned to his native Todd Country, Kentucky, to attend ceremonies in honor of another native son, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, whose United States citizenship had just been restored, ninety years after his death, by a special act of Congress. From that nostalgic journey grew this reflective essay on the tragic career of Jefferson Davis -- "not a modern man in any sense of the word but a conservative called to manage what was, in one sense, a revolution." "Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back" is also a meditation by one of our most respected men of letters on the ironies of American history and the paradoxes of the modern South.

With "The South" being so much in the news lately, I (re) picked up this book (I'd read it several years ago and don't remember much of it.). This is actually the only book by Warren that I've ever read but I know enough about him - Kentucky author, Todd County is just south of my own Muhlenberg, poet - that I think I trust his view of the world and the world he comes from.

Someone that I respect went on a "the Confederate flag is a matter of heritage" tirade on Facebook, so I "unfollowed" him, but I understand where the tirade comes from. You really have to get away from the world that reared you to see the falseness of some of the things that are held dear. It's a matter of perspective. So in this instance I'm turning (as I typically turn to Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken) to Robert Penn Warren for perspective.

3 comments:

Fit Studs said...

Nice book suggestion. ^_^

Chris said...

Where I come from, it isn't so much race but religion and ethnicity that start wars - we had one 25 years ago and the symbols are still fresh on both (or should I say all) sides because wounds have not healed. As someone who is not a U.S. citizen, yet has spent a lot of time here in the past five years and is in a relationship with an American man, looking to move here permanently somewhere down the line, the Confederate flag is a sensitive issue for me. It reminds me of everything that is wrong in my corner of the world, yet I am from elsewhere so I try to listen more than speak.

Having a liberal arts background myself, I second your turn to the world of letters for perspective. I've only ever read Robert Penn Warren's work on literary theory, I'd be curious to read your thoughts on this one after you're done.

LightChaser said...

You can't go wrong resorting to Mencken.