The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 114
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
hoped that he will soon have volumes II and III of the trilogy available
for the reading public.
Virginia Military Institute JOHN G. BARRETT
A Band of Prophets: The Vanderbilt Agrarians After Fifty Years. Ed-
ited by William C. Harvard and Walter Sullivan. (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1982. Pp. x+ 191. Acknowledg-
ments, introduction, discussion, and notes on participants. $25.)
Altogether fittingly, A Band of Prophets appears, just as the subtitle
suggests, a half century after I'll Take My Stand gave the Fugitives/
Agrarians immediate ridicule and eventual fame. Delivered at a con-
ference held at Vanderbilt University, the six essays in this volume
commemorate the anniversary of the South's "manifesto." The cen-
tral question they purport to answer is whether or not the Vanderbilt
"prophets" were inspired when in 1930 they predicted the end of the
South's rural way of life in the face of new industrialism and urbanism
just then gaining a foothold below the Mason-Dixon line. In reality,
no academic essay needs to show us how prescient these twelve south-
erners were. To read these six essays, however, brings forth a fresh sad-
ness and poignancy because the South as these Agrarians envisioned it
is gone, and we have no hope, as they did, of ever having it again.
The introduction points out that the six essayists are southerners
(save one) and come from various academic backgrounds, as did the
Agrarians themselves. Nearly all have had some connection with the
Agrarians, either as students or colleagues or successors in editorial ca-
pacities. As such, they speak with complete understanding and sympa-
thy with the Agrarian viewpoint. In a finely written essay, the historian
Charles P. Roland looks at the South in 19o and finds its prevailing
distinctiveness. John Shelton Reed, a sociologist, while not ignoring
the southernness of I'll Take My Stand, thinks much can be understood
about Agrarianism by seeing it as a form of nationalism. Lewis P.
Simpson, in a turgid style that hampers understanding, searches for the
literary roots of the 1930 book, while Robert Heilman places its roots
firmly in the pastoral tradition. George Core, editor of the Sewanee Re-
view, traces the careers of the Agrarians and gives sound reasons for
their strange lack of success in academic circles. Agrarian critic Louis D.
Rubin, Jr., admittedly going over old ground, finds the book rich in
literary quality because it makes use of a controlling image: the symbol
of the rural South. Finally, the book closes with a somewhat disjointed
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/134/ocr/: accessed July 29, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.