Understanding Poetry was dictated not byrna belief in the irrelevance of an author’srnlife but simply by considerations ofrnspace. He seems genuinely amazed thatrnhis younger colleague at Yale, HaroldrnBloom, could have based a whole criticalrnmethod on an Oedipal “anxiety of influence.”rnThe typical poet. Brooks notes,rn”is not so much concerned to slay his literaryrnfather as to commit acts of mayhemrnon his brother poets.” He allows J.rnHillis Miller, one of the chief recentrnclaimants to the throne of theory, to bernhoist with the petard of his own ludicrousrndeconstruction of Wordsworth’srn”A Slumber Did My Spirit Steal.” Similarly,rnhe notes of Stanley Fish’s Is There arnText in This Class?â€”the ur-text of contemporaryrnreader-response theoryâ€”thatrnthe varying student responses that ledrnFish to conclude that literary texts are essentiallyrnindeterminate only demon-rnADVERTISING POLICYrnChronicles magazinernaccepts advertising fromrnreputable book publishersrnand distributors and fromrncompanies sellingrneducational and culturalrnproducts compatible withrntine magazine’s purposernand standards. Althoughrnwe try to verify claimsrnmade by advertisers,rnpublication of an ad doesrnnot in any way constituternan endorsement.rnChronicles ADVERTISING DEPT.rn934 N. MAIN ST., ROCKFORD, IL 61103rn815-964-5813rnstrate how in a classroom “a strongwilledrnand magnetic individual can engineerrnsuch changes almost to order.” Thernsolid common sense that Brooks evidencesrnthroughout his writings will bernsorely missed.rnWhen Brooks left Louisiana StaternUniversity for Yale, he also leftrnbehind the Southern Review, which hernhad cofounded and edited with Warren.rnThat periodical, which provided muchrnof the impetus for the Southern literaryrnrenaissance, languished for over 20 yearsrnbefore it was revived and restored to eminencernin the 1960’s by Donald Stanfordrnand Lewis P. Simpson. Simpson’s ThernFable of the Southern Writer concentratesrnon a series of representative figures thatrnbegins with Jefferson and John Randolphrnand extends to Faulkner, Tate, Warren,rnand the overlooked Kentucky novelistrnElizabeth Madox Roberts, whom hernsubjects to a brilliant analysis based onrnwhat he calls her “effort to transcend thernconstraint the modern subjectivity ofrnhistory imposes on the imagination ofrnthe literary artist.” Like her contemporaryrnFaulkner, Roberts, arriving at thernuniversal with first steps planted in herrnnative soil, “discovered what we are like:rnwe believe in the idea but not in the fact;rn. . . in the idea of community but not inrncommunity; . . . in the idea of love butrnnot in the act of love.”rnSimpson’s criticism displays a rangernthat is markedly different from that ofrnBrooks. As his title indicates, he is concernedrnonly with Southerners, and, as hisrnmethods quickly display, he prefers thernrole of cultural historian to that of the literaryrncritic. Simpson is heir to the traditionrnestablished by V.L. Parrington inrnMain Currents in American Thought, arnbook that held tremendous influence inrnAmerican studies when he was attendingrncollege, for his chapters are largely devotedrnto the representative men of lettersrnwhose works have both molded and reflectedrnSouthern history. Still, I wonderrnif “cultural historiographer” would notrnbe a more accurate way of describingrnSimpson. What he says of ElizabethrnMadox Roberts might apply to himself:rnhe is more interested in the idea of historyrnthan in history itself. For example, hernestablishes Robert Penn Warren as thernparadigm of a type of Southern sensibility-rnof-exile he calls “the loneliness artist,”rnanalyzing Warren’s long residence outsidernthe South as a reflection of the “lifelongrnpreoccupation with the tension betweenrnideality and reality in Americanrnhistory,” a tension that would eventuallyrnfuel the plot of All the King’s Men. LikernWarren himself, Simpson repeatedly returnsrnto “the problem of the freedomrnand responsibility of the individual in arnworld in which the individual is conceivedrnas at once the maker and thernproduct of history.”rnThe regional concerns of a critic likernSimpson have been sadly undervalued inrnrecent times. Place as an importantrnforce in shaping a writer’s identity nowrnattracts only a tiny portion of the interestrnbestowed on the holy trinity of raceclassandgender.rnBut for the Southernrnwriter, place has always meant less a realrnsense of locale than the kind of idealizedrnEden that Thomas Wolfe apostrophizedrnas “O lost!” It is appropriate that Simpsonrncloses his book with an epilogue titledrn”A Personal Fable: Living with Indians,”rnrecounting his childhood in thernnorthwest Texas community of Jacksborornand relating a good deal of fascinatingrnfamily history along the way. Speakingrnof a local historian, one Ida Huckaby,rnthe author of Ninety-Four Years in ]ackrnCounty, J 854-J 948, Simpson observesrnthe tragic knowledge that every historianrnlearns, “that in working to reconstructrnout of memories and documents thernwholeness of the past, one must come tornsuspect that the motive is illusory.” As hernsays of the hometown he has describedrnin loving detail, “The image of Jacksborornthat comes to me is of a place that nornlonger exists save in remote semblance.rnIt returns because this town, howeverrnimaginary, is still the center of the worldrnfor me.” Simpson turns 80 this year, andrnone hopes that the valedictory tone ofrnthis concluding piece is premature.rnIn the fall of 1992, I attended a celebrationrnhonoring the centennial of thernSewanee Review. Brooks and Simpsonrnwere both there, along with Andrew Lytic,rnShelby Foote, Helen Norris, MonroernSpears, Louis Rubin, and others who hadrncontributed to that magazine’s estimablernhistory and to Southern lettersrnin general. In the autumn of the year onrnthat lovely Tennessee mountaintop, itrnwas not possible for me to look at thesernelder statesmen, still defending in somerninscrutable way the inalienable autonomyrnof the South, without recalling “AnrnAncient to Ancients,” Hardy’s elegy forrnhis own generation that turns on thernmelancholy refrain We are going, gentlemen.rnA great generation is going, and ourrnworld diminishes as it does.