of Virginia in the midst of the Civil Warrnand whose obsessed Captain Ahab wasrnpossibly (possibly) a metaphorical abolitionist.rnHawthorne was a friend of FranklinrnPierce, the most Southern of all Northeasternrnpoliticians, and the main thrust ofrnhis work is a subversion of the self-congratulator)’rnmillennialism of his New Englandrnbrethren. (I do not count Kmersonrnand Thoreau in the first rank. Even thosernwho admire them must admit that theyrnare woidd-be philosophers and saints, notrnstricdy creative artists.)rnAfter Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne,rnthe second rank of antebellum literaturern(onritting some interesting one-book authors)rnis formed up by Cooper and Irving.rnBoth of them achieved sufficient recognitionrnabroad early enough that they couldrnnot be buried imder Massachusetts obloquy.rnBoth were at odds with the New Englandrnspirit. Read Cooper on the nastyrnlower-class Yankees (in the original, precisernethnic meaning of that term) whornswarmed into and defaced his ancestralrnregion in upstate New York (HomewardrnBound and Home as Found) and in oppositionrnto abolitionists (ihe American Democrat).rnAnd recollect that one of Irving’srnmost popidar stories concerns therndisgrace of an absurd canting New Englandcr,rnIchabod Crane, who presumedrntoo much on the good manners of thernHudson Valley Dutch.rnPerhaps the most egregious remainingrnuncorrected legacy of bias from these oldrnlitcrar)’ wars is the long-continued obscurit}’rnand misunderstanding that surroundsrnthe Charleston romancer William GilmorernSimms (1806-1870), who justpo.ssibly,rnwhen accurately appreciated, willrnrank shoulder to shoulder with Cooperrnand Irving. He was the premier antebellumrnwriter of the South, after Poc, andrndie premier interpreter of the West, afterrn(or perhaps with) Cooper. One of thernmost prolific, talented, multifaceted, andrnwide-ranging of American authors in thern19th centmy, Simms was recognizedrneverywhere before the Civil War (exceptrnin the most chauvinist Boston circles) asrna major force in die creation of an Americanrnliterature. Today he is almost unknownrnin any serious way except to a fewrnspecialists.rnA measure of the neglect is that thernfirst and last biography of Simms wasrnpublished in 1892, and that a superficialrnand badly misconceived one. An excellentrnsix-volume edition of his letters hasrnbeen produced in Soudi Carolina, butrnthis has been little used bv literarv scholarsrnand even less by historians, few ofrnwhom have awakened to the fact thatrnSimms v’as the most articulate intellectualrnin the South in the late antebellum periodrnand thus is, or ought to be, of considerablerninterest to general as well asrnliterary history.rnThere are, it is true, some formidablernobstacles to an appreciation ofrnSimms. One of die contributors to “LongrnYears ofNeglect,” James E. Kibler, Jr.rn(with an essay on Simms’ poetry), hasrnsaid elsewhere that Simms must havernwritten steadily with both hands all hisrnlife. He published about 70 or so separaterntitles—poetry, plays, novels, short stories,rnhistory, essays —and probably anrnet[ual amount of material, often anonymousrnor pseudonymous, in the numerousrnSouthern journals of which he servedrnas editor and chief contributor. (In hisrnspare time, Simms was a planter, a publicrnman, and the chief literary talent scoutrnand critic of the South.)rnNot only is the volume and diversity ofrnhis work so daunting as to encouragernmost scholars to pass him by, but muchrnof the vast output is hard to find. ThernCassique ofKiawah, possibly Simms’ bestrnnovel, is virtually unobtainable. Woodcraft,rnthe other possible best, is a littlernmore available, ha’ing been reprinted inrnSouth Carolina in an annotated editionrnalong with Simms’ other RevolutionaryrnWar novels during the American Revolutionrnbicentennial. By a strange fate,rnSimms’ best known and most availablernnovel. The Yemassee, the one which mostrnpeople arc likely to have read if they havernread anything, is far from his best.rnAdded to these logistical obstacles arernthe ideological problems. As an unapologcticrnand explicit defender of thernregime of the Old South, Simms is arnhighly unsympathetic and nearly incomprehensiblernfigure for most modernrnscholars. Even so, the main reason thatrnSimms’ writings are relatively unknownrnand undervalued is scholarly inertia —rnthe tendency to repeat old errors generationrnafter generation rather dian do thernhard work of real exploration and reassessment.rnIn fact, in the past half century or so,rnthere has been a ver)’ large accumidationrnof specialized scholarship on Simms, inrnbooks, articles, and theses, exploring specificrnaspects of his oeuvres and life. Thernnet result has been a gradually rising estimaternof his literary standing. This considerablernliterature has never been formulatedrnin a way that has had much impactrnon general history; however, the presentrnvolume of essays does not come outrnof the blue, but is an expression of a longgatheringrnmovement. In the book are arndozen essays by both literary scholars andrnhistorians on Simms’ major works and aspectsrnof his career. It remains to be seenrnwhether the insights and judgments presentedrnhere will be integrated into a morerngeneral understanding.rnI do not want to claim too much.rnSimms possessed a high order of talent,rnnot genius. He did not write Moby Dickrnor The Scarlet Letter. His poetry, whichrnhe regarded highly, will not be taken toornseriously today. Any author as prolific asrnhe was is bound to suffer from unevenness.rnHe is sometimes careless and melodramatic,rnnot, as in the conventional Parringtonianrnaccount, because his art wasrnundermined by a romantic and extrovertedrnSouthern society, but because a restlessrntemperament led him ever onward tornnew material. However, at his best,rnSimms could tell an important storv’well,rnwith great dramatic conviction and a seriousrnconfrontation of moral and social issues.rnI do not want to put down Cooper,rnwhom I admire and who has an essentialrnplace in American literature. Moreover,rnCooper preceded and made possiblernSimms’ litcrar)’ exploitation of the materialsrnof the American Revolution andrnfrontier. Nevertheless, comparison withrnCooper is the most telling that can bernmade for Simms. I would contend thatrnin his best works Simms was a better storytellerrnthan Cooper, a better plotter, arnbetter psychologist. Moreover, he had arnmuch ampler historical and social imaginationrnas well as a vast fund of somethingrnCooper lacked entirely—humor. Mostrnreaders have fomid Simms’ frontiersmenrnand Indians superior to the more famousrncharacters of Cooper. Moreover, Simmsrntruly anticipated many of the greatrnachievements of 20th-century Southernrnliteratme, whereas Cooper has no realrnprogeny.rnMost of Simms’ major work, andrnmuch of the lesser, is found in the threernseries of novels, or “romances” as herncalled them, that he produced more orrnless simultaneously from the 1830’s tornthe I850’s: those set in the colonialrnSoutheast {The Yemassee, The Lily andrnthe Totem, The Cassique of Kiawah,rnand others); those concerned with thernAmerican Revolution in South Carolinarn(The Partisan, Mellichampe, The Scout,rn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn