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Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren submission

Robert Penn Warren’s Submission of “John Crowe Ransom: A Study in Irony,” 1935

In 1931, Robert Penn Warren received free books in exchange for penning unsigned reviews for the Virginia Quarterly Review. However, his poems and stories were repeatedly rejected. Finally, he wrote the editor, Stringfellow Barr: “If my prose . . . is decent enough for you to print, my verse is equally, or more, so. Or, is a prose review regarded as merely a space filler in the Quarterly?”

Garland for You

Don’t bother a bit, you are only a dream you are having,
And if when you wake your symptoms are not relieved,
That is only because you harbor a morbid craving
For belief in the old delusion in which you have always believed.

Willie Stark and the Long, Thinning Shadow of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men

I would argue that we are still under the mythos of populism, whether it be the relatively mild form promulgated by an aging William Jennings Bryan, who crossed verbal swords in the mid-1920s with Clarence Darrow over teaching Darwin in public schools, or the no-holds-barred demagoguery of the Huey Long who knew how to whip ragtag Louisiana crowds into a frenzy and how to put his stamp—many thought of it as fascist—onto American politics during the Great Depression.

Why the Southern Renaissance?

Why the Southern Renaissance ever occurred is still something of a mystery. All that is attempted here is an analysis of some explanations that have been offered by others and a few additional speculations. Before turning to the critical why, however, it is necessary to determine just what it is we are talking about. In the first place, we are stuck with a misnomer in the very word "renaissance." For neither in its literal sense nor in its classic historical usage is this French word really applicable to what happened in the South.