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Donald Davidson

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Donald Davidson and the Tennessean’s Book Page

“I can claim no ultimate wisdom in the matter. I can only say that I reviewed books in Tennessee for seven years, and during the same period persuaded a great many people to do likewise. The book page that I edited had a very modest beginning in 1924 in the Nashville Tennessean.” - Donald Davidson 1924 unfurled. The weather, customary…
Chase Steely
October 11, 2023
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Gregg Jarrett Loathes the Christian South

The United States are often presented as ‘one nation’, but that is far from the reality.  One of the most exemplary of the Vanderbilt Agrarians, Donald Davidson, even spoke of a cultural ‘cold Civil War’ that began between the North and the South after WWI drew to a close (Southern Writers in the Modern World, U of Georgia Press, Athens,…
Walt Garlington
August 7, 2023
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The Attack on Leviathan, Part V

XIII. The Dilemma of the Southern Liberals Originally published in The American Mercury, 1934 “The Dilemma of the Southern Liberals” Back when wild-eyed suffragettes were on the losing end of Oklahoma Drills with King George V’s horse, Vanderbilt and Sewanee were Southern football giants, and the Bull Moose Party was hawking the square new deal, Southern liberals—all hopped up on…
Chase Steely
December 2, 2022
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The Attack on Leviathan, Part 4

X. American Heroes Originally published as “A Note on American Heroes” in the Southern Review (1935). Whatever else we lack, we do not lack great memories. We have heroes, and we want to possess them affectionately as a mature nation ought. The American mind is divided against itself. Our approach to “what terms we may possess our heroes” is as…
Chase Steely
October 7, 2022
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The Attack on Leviathan, Part 3

VI. Still Rebels, Still Yankees Originally published as two essays in the American Review and can be found in the anthology Modern Minds. Many will recognize this chapter’s title from another book of Davidson’s collected essays with the same title published in 1957. Davidson begins recollecting a meeting of Southern writers in Charleston, SC. In 1932, Davidson penned a brief…
Chase Steely
August 4, 2022
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The Attack on Leviathan, Part 2

I. The Diversity of America Parts of this chapter (along with several others) are from “Sectionalism in the United States,” Hound and Horn, VI (July-September, 1933). The link to Davidson’s “Sectionalism” essay provides some context of its genesis—some of which is a smidge uncomfortable. In The Idea of the American South (1979), Michael O’Brien portrays Davidson as a misfit compared…
Chase Steely
July 15, 2022
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The Attack on Leviathan, Part 1

“In 1938 appeared the clearest and most courageous of the Agrarian documents, Donald Davidson’s Attack on Leviathan.” – Richard M. Weaver Russell Kirk tells the story of discovering Davidson’s book in 1938 as a sophomore at Michigan State in the introduction for its reprint in 1991. Kirk writes, “The book was so good that I assumed all intelligent Americans, or…
Chase Steely
July 8, 2022
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Can the South Rise Again?

Growing up in mostly-rural North Carolina, most of my friends and especially their parents could go on a bit about their family backgrounds, about their familial histories. Most of my friends—like me—had great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers who had served in Confederate ranks back in 1861-1865. Pride in family and in our ancestors was taken for granted, a devout appreciation we all…
Boyd Cathey
August 16, 2021
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Southward Returning/Sanctuary

Southward Returning To you, Virginia, Tennessee, To Georgia’s red roads, to the past That binds the delta and the sea, Your Southern sons return at last. No more the always going forth From ruin and our old regret, No more the sundering of faiths By some who taught us to forget. For us, the long remembering Of all our hearts…
Donald Davidson
August 8, 2018
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Donald Davidson Revisted

Mel Bradford has argued that no individual has exerted more influence upon the development of a profession of letters this century in the South than Donald Davidson. The poet, essayist, and social critic is well known to most literary scholars and historians of the South; however, Davidson’s critique of the Southern experience remains largely unappreciated. Several years ago the author…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
May 10, 2018
Review Posts

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A review of Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States: The Attack on Leviathan by Donald Davidson (Transaction Books, 1991). August 18, 1993 will mark the centennial of Donald Davidson’s birth. On April 25 of that year, he will have been dead a quarter of a century. During his lifetime Davidson was considered the most minor of the major Fugitives,…
Mark Royden Winchell
March 27, 2018
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The Accommodating Mind of Wilbur Cash

A phenomenon that has always intrigued me is how certain books achieved importance not because of their literary merit or substance but because they accommodated the political trends of the time. This occurred because the Eastern establishment not only set the political trends, it also decided which books would be published, and its members wrote approving reviews of books it…
Gail Jarvis
April 24, 2014
Review Posts

Lee in the Mountains

Walking into the shadows, walking alone Where the sun falls through the ruined boughs of locust Up to the president's office. . . . Hearing the voices Whisper, Hush, it is General Lee! And strangely Hearing my own voice say, Good morning, boys. (Don't get up. You are early. It is long Before the bell. You will have long to…
Donald Davidson
April 10, 2014
Review Posts

Fugitive Agrarians

I’ll Take My Stand, the classic statement of Southern Agrarianism, was first published in 1930. Since that time, it has never been out of print. You have to ask yourself why people have continued to read it. There are several good reasons why they shouldn’t. It’s a quirky book. The 12 essays—written by men of varying backgrounds and talents—are uneven…
Thomas Landess
April 3, 2014