rich planting friend, no doubt seeingrnhimself in the man: “Each year at harvestrntime his family noticed that he hung onrnthe wall of his house on the plantation arnsheaf of rice, and removed the one hernplaced there the year before. Two yearsrnago, when he died at a ripe old age, hernrequested his family to place the sheaf onrnhis casket instead of flowers. He wantedrnthe sheaf to go with him to the grave.”rnPerhaps only a farmer can truly understandrnHeyward’s love of the crop hernplanted, his bond to the land and thernwav of life surrounding it, and the magnitudernof his loss.rnHow peculiar that the introductionrnrefers to the volume as an “oddly movingrnbook.” Why should it be “odd” that thernbook is “moving”? Is it because Heyward’srnfather owned slaves? Or becausernHeward was a patrician Southerner? Orrnbecause he was a farmer? Beyond hisrnfailure to discern literary merit, Coclanisrnis unable to place Seed From Madagascarrnin the context of the Low Country Renaissance,rnas well as to recognize thatrnwhat we have witnessed in these 250rnpages is a full-blown tragedy. Heyward,rnhimself, as Coclanis notes, consideredrnhis storv a “tragic one,” as did his oldrnGullah friend Judy, who wept when shernheard that the Heywards no longerrnowned their old rice lands but hadrnpassed them to the DuPonts of Delawarernto use as a hunting preserve—knowing asrnshe did the traditions of the land that shernand her people, black and white, had laboredrnto “reclaim” and mold to providernlife and human sustenance. Now allrnwere leaving; the land was becomingrn”unsettled.” What would she do? Sherndid not want to leave. The land had itsrnassociations for her, as it did for Heyward.rnHer people were buried there; sornwere his. She knew its rhythms and hadrnlived in accordance with them. Displacementrnand dispossession: these arernthe twin burdens of the tragedy Coclanisrndenies. Hevward’s book, he asserts, isrn”an oft powerful lament, but not arntragedy true.”rnThis untrue tragedy involves the completerndestruction of an agrarian wav ofrnlife. Heyward skillfully describes thatrnlife w ithin the embrace of nature andrnall her moods. He shows its rootednessrnand the humility, reverence, and wisdomrnthat such closeness to nature andrnnature’s God breeds through stories thatrnreveal harmonies and continuities and arnstrong sense of place. In the course ofrnthe volume, this life reaches its end asrnthe descendants of slaves and mastersrnalike are left to confront not just “OlernStephney,” as the Gullahs called thernspecter of hunger, but alienation, loss ofrncommunity, loss of meaning and oldrnagrarian values, urban existence, andrn”the cash-register evaluation of life,” as arnnoted modern historian has called it.rnGiven Heyward’s acutely discerning understandingrnof these changes, one canrnsee why, in selling the family land to outsidersrnwho knew nothing of its traditions,rnhe did indeed feel he was betraying hisrnancestors, who, Coclanis blithely assuresrnus, given their “resourcefulness and ambition”rnwould actually “have laudedrnrather than reproached him for the nimblenessrnhe displayed in leaving agriculture.”rnOne soon catches the drift of his introduction,rnwhich begins by assertingrnthat there were no genuine aristocracyrnand no real traditions in the South anywav,rnonly myths and convenient fabricationsrnand inventions. What was forfeitedrnwas of no real value, and if nothing isrnlost, where is the tragedy? We have seenrnthis sort of reasoning before: it is, in fact,rnthe cliched and regnant view in revisionistrnhistory today. Southerners, it seems,rnshould be thankful for the torch that releasedrnthem from a backward and outmodedrnway of living; they should berngrateful for a liberating war against civilians,rnfor a holocaust performed by a conqueringrnarmy bent on subjugation, forrnshort-term pillage and long-term economicrnexploitation. Heyward—evenly,rncalmly—makes such charges in a subtlernand genteel manner, often through symbolismrnand allegory, while eschewingrnspecific accusations.rnSo one is led to the inevitable question:rnWhat is Mr. Coclanis’s agenda andrnfrom whence comes the climate ofrnthought that produces such introductions?rnHeyward and his “indecentrnworld” are merely the latest in a longrnline of victims sacrificed by the sanctimoniousrnmodern. But there is no footworkrnthat can dance us around the enormousrntruth that Heyward’s is the story,rnin little, of the destruction of the oldrnAmerica and many of its strongest values,rnof an agrarian way of life consciouslyrncreated from the thinking of suchrnSoutherners as Washington, Jefferson,rnJohn Taylor of Caroline, John Randolphrnof Roanoke, Calhoun, and the Heywardrnfamily itself, more than six generations ofrnwhom lived the very agrarian philosophyrnthat created in large part the Americanrnexperiment—a noble experimentrnthat with the 20th century and the passingrnof private agriculture is on the vergernof lapsing into a warmed-over version ofrnEuropean socialism. When DuncanrnHeyward exchanged his family lands ofrnseveral centuries for the insurancernagent’s pad and the stockbroker’s tickerrntape, his tragedy was not just his own orrnthe South’s, but the nation’s. “NationalrnEnormity” was not slavery; it was therntotal destruction of an agrarian way ofrnlife and an agrarian people—both whiternand black—who drew their being from itrnand were rightly distraught at losing it.rn]ames E. Kibler is a professor of Englishrnat the University of Georgia.rnSuspect Companyrnby Richard M. GamblernThe Oxford Companion to the BiblernEdited by Bruce M. Metzger andrnMichael D. CooganrnNew York: Oxford University Press;rn864 pp., $49.95rnThe editors of The Oxford Companionrnto the Bible describe their workrnas “an authoritative reference for key persons,rnplaces, events, concepts, institutions,rnand realities of biblical times” andrnas a guide to the current “interpretationrnof these topics by modern scholars.”rnThey present the Bible (the Old andrnNew Testaments and the Apocrypha) inrnlight of the latest, yet often contradictory,rnopinions from “anthropology, sociology,rnand literary criticism,” producingrna handbook that is “consciously pluralistic”rnand “inclusive.” The Companion’srnintended audience ranges from the layrnreader to ministers and rabbis to academics,rnalthough one guesses from itsrnavailabilit)’ in chain bookstores and fromrnvarious book clubs that it is aimed primarilyrnat the general public.rnCompiled by Princeton Seminary’srnBruce M. Metzger and Stonehill College’srnMichael D. Coogan, the Companion’srnmore than 700 entries are the workrnof Jewish and Christian biblical scholarsrnfrom 20 countries. The authors relyrnthroughout on the gender-sensitive NewrnRevised Standard version of the BiblernMAY 1994/37rnrnrn