Traditionalist and Iconoclast: Corra Harris and Southern Writing, 1900–1920
The day is doubtless yet far away, if indeed it ever comes, when the South of 1865–1920 will shed H.L.Mencken’s label of “The Sahara of the Bozart.” Roughly forty years after Mencken wrote, C.Hugh Holman, a much more astute and sympathetic student of southern culture, changed the image Mencken used but preserved the import of his appraisal by calling the period the “dark night” of southern literature, illumined only by the “pale phosphorescence of decay.” Ten years after Holman’s assessment, other literary scholars quite correctly referred to the years 1890–1920—the time between the local-color flowering and the Southern Renascence—as the “forgotten decades” of southern writing.
1 Perhaps, though, the longer period was not as dry or as dark as has been thought. Certainly, over the past few years the shorter period has received more attention from scholars, although much work remains to be done.
A significant development in southern literature at the turn of the century that merits further study was the emergence of a group of tough-minded critics. Courageous academicians such as William M.Baskervill, William Peterfield Trent, and Henry N.Snyder were writing books and essays critical of the sentimentality and chauvinism that characterized much of the literature memorialized in such works as The Library of Southern Literature and Literary Hearthstones of Dixie.
None of those critics was any more forthright than Corra Harris, who lacked formal training but had read widely.
4 The daughter of a feisty, hard-drinking Confederate veteran and a steady, devout mother, Corra Mae White was born and raised in Elbert County, Georgia, northwest of Augusta and near the South Carolina line. While attending Elberton Female Academy, where she excelled in composition, Corra also taught school. After graduation she continued to teach until her marriage in 1887, shortly before her eighteenth birthday, to Lundy Howard Harris, a Methodist minister and educator. Her life as wife and mother was beset by sorrows. One son was stillborn; the other died in early childhood; and Corra survived her only other child, a daughter, by fifteen years. She outlived Lundy, whose losing battle against emotional instability culminated in suicide in 1910, by twenty-five years. The diversion provided by her writing, which also brought much-needed income, helped her weather these personal tragedies.
A forcefully written letter to the editor of Independent expressing indignation over the manner in which that journal had reported a lynching in Georgia catapulted Harris into the national press in 1899 and brought an invitation to contribute regularly to that periodical as book reviewer and essayist.
6 Some of her criticism there and in other journals dealt with European and American literature generally, and showed Harris to be a critic always of strong prejudices and sometimes of poor judgment. For example, she praised the work of Owen Wister, Booth Tarkington, and the American Winston Churchill and denigrated that of George Bernard Shaw, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.
Harris leveled her most withering barrages at muckraking novelists and journalists because by her definition they were romancers who mangled reality by emphasizing the sensational, the vicious, and the maudlin. Whenever such “horror-hunters” took the South as a subject their torturing of the facts was even more brutal than usual. Dressing up the “simple unvarnished truth…in the pathos of poverty and the scurvy of dirt,” these writers, usually outsiders, created a so-called “composite type” of the poor southerner that was in fact a “composite fallacy.” Mercenary sentimentalists, they could not be trusted because they dealt only with “the worst truth,” which, wrote Harris, “is generally more misleading than any kind of falsehood.” For far too long southerners had suffered the “ethical snobbery” of Yankee curs that “yap[ped] at the heels of Southern men about their faults.”
Although Harris bridled at criticisms of the South from outsiders, she showed little hesitancy to offer many of her own, particularly of regional literature. In an essay published in Independent in 1908, she stated flatly that no contemporary regional writer had produced “a really notable story of Southern life as it is.” The dearth of realistic writing should be attributed in great measure, argued Harris, to the inability of southerners to criticize themselves; “nothing,” she wrote, “will induce us to tell the truth about ourselves that is not complimentary.”
By and large, southern writers gave readers what they wanted, which at the turn of the century was historical romance.
10 Harris expressed dismay over “the lack of an enlightened intelligence in the readers of Southern fiction,” a malady aggravated not only by writers engaged “in the cemetery business,” but also by other seemingly full-time perpetuators of the Lost Cause: “blatherskite orators” who at every possible opportunity “remind us with impassioned sentences and streaming eyes of our grandfathers’ swords and of a “‘glorious past,’” and clubwomen, the self-appointed guardians of propriety. In a region where, according to Harris, the ”dead are the very greatest, most influential people,” the fictional products of this romantic view of the past were “strutting dandies,” vainglorious “Colonial dames,” and glowing descriptions of “our ante-bellum plantations and the family plate we lost during the Civil War.” The result, in short, was a pervasive irrelevance. As Harris put it, “if…a house [has been] built in the South since 1865 that was fit for the star character to live in there is no record of it in Southern novels.”
Amid the gloom, though, Harris thought she saw a glimmer of hope. By 1907 she was contending that the vogue of historical romance was passing. She rejoiced that Thomas Dixon had “at last finished his ‘trilogy’ on the Reconstruction period.” The Leopard’s Spots, The Clansman, and The Traitor, she wrote, were “decadent, puerile[,]…shrieking, [and] hysterical” novels that the South could well have done without.
12 Moreover, Harris believed that the work of another historical romancer, though more skillfully done than Dixon’s, was fast becoming obsolete. In her estimation the fiction of Thomas Nelson Page was severely limited by an aristocratic bias that omitted too much of southern life. Whether because “a younger, less prejudiced generation” viewed Page “with strange indifference, or whether commercialism has rendered us too sordid to appreciate the ideality for which his writings stand,” the South had outgrown his work, which was a sign of returning vitality in the region’s intellectual life.
In penning Page’s literary obituary, Harris asserted that “[h]enceforth the novelist of Southern life must change his scene, bring it forward.”
14 A writer who was doing so and who was earning Harris’s fulsome praise in the process was her fellow Georgian Will N. Harben. His fiction, she wrote, provided “a faithful and admirable interpretation of middle-class people in North Georgia.” Harben’s novels, she continued, were “literal pictures of life …, as warm…as the sun, as redolent of the soil as the cotton bloom, and as clean and sweet as a good woman’s heart.”
Harris’s opinion of Harben highlighted her own strengths and weaknesses as a critic. Southern literature badly needed to escape the chains of sentimental historical fiction. Harben’s work was doing so. Southern literature badly needed characters other than dashing cavaliers and faithful slaves. Harben was creating them. Southern literature badly needed treatment of ordinary people trying to make their way in a changing society. Harben was attempting to portray such people in such a world. Yet notwithstanding Harris’s claim, Harben’s novels were not “literal pictures” of North Georgia life. His optimism over the widespread benefits of economic progress, his glorification of the middle class, his avoidance or gingerly treatment of sex all imposed severe limits on his realism.
16 Harris might consider his interpretation of life in North Georgia “admirable,” but it was hardly “faithful” to the variety of experience there. His was, by and large, a sunny realism. But he had brought his scene forward, and he was writing about people who lived in something other than mansions.
And so did Harris herself when she turned to writing fiction. None of her sixteen novels has a historical setting. Moreover, in the early fiction, which is generally much superior to the later work, the protagonists are seldom of the upper class. The little-known Brasstown stories, set in the Georgia mountains and written early in Harris’s career, are among her best work. Usually homilies that extol a religion of love and compassion as opposed to the fire-and-brimstone kind, the stories, cloaked in the trappings of local color, are often told by a vernacular narrator and convey without condescension Harris’s deep sympathy with and keen admiration for the people of the hills.
17 One of the Brasstown tales, “Law in the Valley,” a somber, powerful story of hatred and sin and love and redemption, may well be Harris’s finest work.
By the time the Brasstown stories were published, the popularity of local-color fiction had waned. After 1910 Harris turned increasingly to writing novels that are set in the contemporary South but that often are yawningly irrelevant to important concerns of the region, a fascinating development in the light of her literary criticism. The very titles of many of these novels served to lure a certain kind of reader: Eve’s Second Husband (1911), In Search of a Husband (1913), Making Her His Wife (1918), Happily Married (1920), The Eyes of Love (1922), and The House of Helen (1923). Tiresome, aseptic, “society” novels set usually in a small city modeled on Atlanta and peopled by sophisticates who often get their comeuppance, they could have been set virtually anywhere, and they contained little that was pertinent to the experience of most southerners. The plot is the same in virtually all these works and others like them by Harris that lack only the fetching titles. Man and woman meet, court, and marry, the wedding occurring sometimes early in the tale, sometimes late. The story focuses on the vicissitudes of their relationship in courtship or in marriage. Realistic in that they record the sorrows as well as the joys of such relationships, the novels are nevertheless marred by an abrasive didacticism. First published serially in the popular women’s magazines Ladies’ Home Journal and Pictorial Review or in The Saturday Evening Post, which in the second decade of the century was striving mightily to increase the number of its women readers, these novels were tailor-made for middle-class women, whom Harris counseled to tolerate their men’s flaws, to eschew divorce, and to manipulate their men to their advantage. In short, Harris, who wrote for a living, usually gave her readers a kind of domestic realism that she thought they wanted.
Two of her novels, however, are conspicuous exceptions to the kind of fiction she often wrote and as such are much closer kin to the iconoclastic views expressed in her critical essays. These novels, A Circuit Rider’s Wife(1910) and The Recording Angel (1912), were composed early in her novel-writing years immediately after her ten-years work as a critic. They deal with the kind of people Harris knew best, rural and small-town folk. Significantly, of all her novels they are the only ones that were subsequently published in new editions.
Based loosely upon the Harrises’ year in the Methodist itinerancy, A Circuit Rider’s Wife, Harris’s best-known work, pulls no punches in attacking the Methodist hierarchy for what Harris perceived as its shabby treatment of itinerant preachers and in deriding those sweetly pious Christians who believed that only other people were sinners. As in the Brasstown stories, Harris demonstrates her keen, though hardly sentimental, admiration of southern hill men. These people, she wrote, “were not happy nor good, but they were Scriptural.” They believed in “The God, the one who divided the light from darkness,…who accepted burnt offerings sometimes, and who caused flowers to bloom upon the same altars,” and not in a god “tamed and diminished by modern thought.” The contrast between such people and “the witty, mind-bred, spirit-lost people of the world was startling indeed.”
More broadly social in significance than A Circuit Rider’s Wife is The Recording Angel, which, despite serious flaws, is Harris’s best novel. Set in Ruckersville, Georgia, around the turn of the century, The Recording Angel conveys Harris’s impressions of life in a small southern town. The plot revolves around the doings of Jim Bone, a local rowdy who returns to town after twenty years in the West, where he had grown rich. He sets about improving the town, in the process seeking the hand of the local belle. At story’s end, Jim’s suit succeeds and progress comes to Ruckersville.
The town certainly needs improvement, for it has gone to seed. With a fine realistic touch that highlights Ruckersville’s condition, Harris describes the office of the town’s hotel where the dirty stove, doubling as a spittoon, holds ashes “long since packed down with tobacco juice.” “Admirably situated to have developed into a flourishing city,” Ruckersville is instead enveloped by “an atmosphere of repose and somnambulance.”
The fault lies with the people, “cake-dough humanity [lacking]…the leaven of industry, of accomplishment and progress.” Controlled by “the saints [who] had gotten the upper hand…and had created a decimated public opinion,” the town “excluded all worldly amusements…and many other things as natural for men and women to have as their hair and legs.” Ruckersville’s saints are its clubwomen who, except for the difference in gender, are reminiscent of Walter Hines Page’s “mummies.” Wielding an overweening control over their menfolk, these women dominate the town’s life. They spend much of their time at meetings of their literary circle reading their own compositions, which are expressions of “innocuous innocent-mindedness…as sexless as a hymn…[that] border…upon absurdity.”
Like the women, the men of the town have fallen under the spell of the muse, if not of Euterpe then of Clio. Captain Alexander Rucker-Martin, the chief saint’s husband who as a Confederate soldier had been brave to the point of foolhardiness, had nevertheless suffered a wound in the back. Having “retired from business without entering it,” Rucker-Martin is writing the fourth volume, none published, of a Civil War narrative and does little else. The captain’s confrere, the bibulous Corporal Elbert White, is likewise recording his own exploits during the war when, as he says, “I lost four of m’legs at Gettysburg and all m’arms at Appomattox.”
When not absorbed in writing or reading their literary masterpieces, Ruckersville’s elite had been busily engaged in raising money for a Confederate monument. Even in that effort, however, the town had fallen short. Unable to raise the sculptor’s full price, the townspeople found themselves stuck with “a curious, duck-legged statute.” To the protagonist Jim Bone, and to Harris, “the realistic brevity of the legs” provided still more evidence of the pathetic inadequacy of the South. In a biting indictment of the region’s bondage to its history, she wrote, “in those countries where there are the greatest number of monuments to the memory of men and deeds there is to be found the poorest quality of living manhood.”
24 Harris viewed the old veterans themselves with kindly indulgence, but she ridiculed those younger southerners whose thralldom to a romantic notion of the past rendered them virtually useless in the present. To treat the Lost Cause with such savage satire in its heyday and in the state with more chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) than any other required no small measure of daring.
It takes the return of a native who had left town after a drunken knife fight to breathe new life into Ruckersville. Never part of polite society, Jim Bone had intended to remain in town only long enough to raise a little hell. Yet like many other characters in regional fiction before and after him, he feels an indefinable something that attracts him to the South. As Harris puts it, upon returning home he fell into “a trance which he knew was ridiculous but which he could not make up his mind to break…[H]is mind had been dissolved by the whole situation.”
Bone proceeds to use the money he has made out West to provide employment by developing a granite quarry and building a cotton mill and to furnish amusement by constructing a theatre in which he stages an entertainment based upon the unflattering descriptions of Ruckersville’s leaders written by blind Amy White, the “recording angel” of the story. Now that Bone has the upper hand, he smoothes the saints’ ruffled feathers by donating the receipts from the show to the clubwomen to finance their good works.
The story ends happily, all too happily, with three weddings, a successful operation that restores Amy White’s sight, and progress in the offing. Ruckersville’s prosperity will be genuine, not illusory, because it has come from within. Although it took the blind to see the town’s faults and the exiled to correct them, still, those characters, like Harris herself, felt a deep love for the South, unlike the outside industrialists pushing into the region around the turn of the century. In a digressive passage late in the novel, Harris blasts the economic imperialists of the North. “[H]ighly acquisitive…rogues trained in the conscienceless school of finance,” they must bear major responsibility for the “inhuman and abusive features” of their industries that result in “the enslaving of children and the impoverishing of the people both morally and physically.” It is the southerner who “performs the labour, gets the tuberculosis, [and] reaps the desolation and hardships.” The Yankee capitalist “gets the profits, and returns the same with a philanthropic strut in an occasional donation to a negro school or maybe a library building.” Such a situation could not exist, however, without the collusion of “shiftless, shortvisioned Southerners who not only permit but seek this method of destroying themselves.”
27 Seldom encountered in southern fiction of the time, such insight into the workings of the colonial economy is left undeveloped because the archvillain in The Recording Angel is the aristocratic mentality mired in a romantic notion of the past. The novel is about breaking the chains of the past; it is not about securing those of the present.
Here and there in other novels Harris satirized the cult of the Lost Cause, undercut the idyllic view of small-town life, lamented the sorry condition of southern schools, portrayed the plight of poor farm women, and treated women’s efforts to secure the suffrage sympathetically even though she criticized the broader feminism that she believed was unrealistically optimistic over the social and political changes it could effect.
28The Recording Angel, however, is as close as Harris ever came to writing a novel that was broadly social rather than narrowly domestic in focus. It, as well as some of her other fiction, demonstrates the difficulty of categorizing her. She can hardly be counted a member of what Fred Hobson has called “the school of remembrance.” Yet neither does she fit securely into his “school of shame.” Her works reject many of the tenets of twentieth-century modernism as described by Daniel Joseph Singal. Yet she hardly embraced the Victorians’ euphoric faith in the certainty of progress. Her contemporary Edwin Mims noted that she “displeases the intellectuals and apologists of the new realism by showing streaks of sentiment and idealism.” Yet as he further pointed out, “her realistic portraits…unabashed humour have seemed to some sentimental Southerners little short of blasphemous.”
Unfortunately for Harris’s enduring reputation, she wrote too many facile society novels and too few significantly social novels. Moreover, far too often in her fiction the tractarian floors the artist. Had she written more work in a caustically humorous vein, which was her forte, her place in southern literature would be higher. Even so, many of her critical essays, some of the Brasstown stories, and a few of her novels were a breath of fresh air in the stale atmosphere of early twentieth-century southern literature. Like other forgotten southern writers of the time—Opie Read, John Trotwood Moore, and Will N.Harben, to name a few of the most neglected—she tried honestly to tell about the South.
In the last major essay that C.Hugh Holman wrote before his death, he urged students of southern literature to broaden their focus, to realize that the “romantic impulse and form” so powerfully evident in Faulkner do not constitute the only kind of southern writing worthy of consideration, and to commence serious study of those writers “who work in the realistic mode and produce social…novels.”
31 Much of Corra Harris’s work, critical and fictional, deserves closer analysis than it has hitherto received.
I am grateful to my colleagues at Mercer University, Carlos T.Flick and Henry Y.Warnock, and to Professor J.William Berry of Arkansas State University, for their helpful criticisms of this essay.
H.LMencken, “The Sahara of the Bozart,” Prejudices: Second Series (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1920), pp. 136–54; C.Hugh Holman, “Literature and Culture: The Fugitive-Agrarians,” The Roots of Southern Writing: Essays on the Literature of the American South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1972), pp. 188–89 [essay first published in 1957]; Louis J.Budd et al., “The Forgotten Decades of Southern Writing,” Mississippi Quarterly 21 (Fall 1968):275–90.
See, for example, Fred Hobson, Tell About the South: The Southern Rage to Explain (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), pp. 85–179; Anne Goodwyn Jones, Tomorrow Is Another Day: The Woman Writer in the South, 1859–1936 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), pp. 135–270; Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan, The Dream of Arcady: Place and Time in Southern Literature (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980), pp. 36–104; Wayne Mixon, Southern Writers and the New South Movement, 1865–1913 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 29–57, 73–84, 98–128.
Gaines M.Foster, “Mirage in the Sahara of the Bozart: The Library of Southern Literature,” Mississippi Quarterly 28 (Winter 1974–1975):3–19; Randall Gerald Patterson, “Writing Southern Literary History: A Study of Selected Critics and Historians of the Literature of the South, 1890–1910,” Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1976, pp. 1–5, 22 passim; Henry N.Snyder, “The Matter of ‘Southern Literature,’” Sewanee Review 15 (April 1907):218–19.
Scholarship on Harris is scant. John E.Talmadge, Corra Harris, Lady of Purpose (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), is excellent on the facts of her life but meager in its treatment of her writings. Brief appraisals of some of her critical writings are C.H.Edwards, “The Early Literary Criticism of Corra Harris,” Georgia Review 17 (Winter 1963):449–55, and L.Moody Simms, Jr., “Corra Harris on the Decline of Southern Writing,” Southern Studies 18 (Summer 1979):247–50. Mississippi Quarterly has reprinted a few of Harris’s critical essays with editorial commentary by Simms. The titles and issues are as follows: “Corra Harris on Patriotic Literary Criticism in the Post-Civil War South,” 25 (Fall 1972):459–66; “Corra Harris on Southern and Northern Fiction,” 27 (Fall 1974):475–81; “Corra Harris on the Declining Influence of Thomas Nelson Page,” 28 (Fall 1975):505–9; “Corra Harris, William Peterfield Trent, and Southern Writing,” 32 (Fall 1979):641–50. Walter Blackstock, Jr., “Corra Harris: An Analytical Study of Her Novels,” M.A. thesis, Vanderbilt University, 1944, is a competent examination of Harris’s long fiction. Little else on Harris has been done.
Talmadge, Harris, pp. 56–57 passim.
Mrs. L.H.Harris, “A Southern Woman’s View,” Independent, 51 (May 18, 1899):1354–55; Talmadge, Harris, pp. 28–30.
See the following pieces by Harris, all of which were published in Independent: “New Pigeon Holes for Novels,” 54 (February 13, 1902):394–96; “The Serpent and the Woman in Fiction,” 59 (December 7, 1905):1332–33; “Fungus Fiction,” 60 (May 3, 1906):1040–44; “The Rise and Fall of Popular Novels During 1906,” 62 (March 7, 1907):544–46; “To License Novelists,” 63 (November 21, 1907):1247– 50.
Mrs. Lundy (L. H.) Harris, “Literary Horror Hunting,” Uncle Remus Magazine 1 (October 1907):21; Mrs. L.H.Harris, “Advice to Literary Aspirants,” Independent 62 (January 10, 1907):83.
Mrs. L.H.Harris, “The Advance of Civilization in Fiction,” Independent 65 (November 19, 1908):1171; emphasis is in original.
On the vogue of historical fiction during these years, see Sheldon Van Auken, “The Southern Historical Novel in the Early Twentieth Century,” Journal of Southern History 14 (May 1948):157–91.
Harris, “Advance of Civilization,” p. 1171; “Our Novelists,” Independent 59 (November 16, 1905):1171; “Advice to Literary Aspirants,” p. 83; “Fiction, North and South,” Critic 43 (September 1903):273–75; “Southern Manners,” Independent 61 (August 9, 1906):324; “Heroes and Heroines in Recent Fiction,” Independent 55 (September 3, 1903):2112, 2114; “Fashions in Fiction,” Independent 58 (June 22, 1905):1410–11.
Mrs. Lundy (L. H.) Harris, “The Year’s Fiction,” Uncle Remus Magazine 1 (December 1907):33. See also Harris, “Fashions in Fiction,” p. 1409; “Our Novelists,” p. 1173; “The Walking Delegate Novelist,” Independent 60 (May 24, 1906): 1215. Although not as blatantly racist as Dixon’s, Harris’s attitude toward the Negro was hardly charitable, as “A Southern Woman’s View” shows. Even so, race was a theme that drew little of her attention. Seldom did she treat it in her fiction.
[Mrs. L.H.Harris], “The Waning Influence of Thomas Nelson Page,” Current Literature 43 (August 1907):171–72. See also Harris, “The Year’s Fiction,” p. 33.
Harris, “Waning Influence,” p. 172.
Harris, “The Year’s Fiction,” p. 33. See also Harris, “Fashions in Fiction,” p. 1410; “Our Novelists,” p. 1171; “To License Novelists,” p. 1249.
Mixon, Southern Writers, pp. 52, 140n. 18.
See, for example, Mrs. L.H.Harris, “The Palingenesis of Billy Meriwether,” Independents 53 (July 18, 1901):1670–76; “Buck Simmons of Brasstown,” Independent 55 (March 26, 1903):723–25; “Pappy’s Plan of Salvation,” American Illustrated Magazine 61 (November 1905):17–22; “The Passing of Brother Milam,” Independent 63 (September 5, 1907):552–56; “Jesse James’s Church Collection in Brasstown Valley,” Independents 57 (June 24, 1909):1386–89. Harris’s view of the common people contrasts sharply with the patronizing attitude of academic intellectuals such as John Spencer Bassett, Andrew Sledd, and Edwin Mims, who, it seems, were themselves often unaware that they held such an attitude. See Daniel Joseph Singal, The War Within: From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919–1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), p. 30.
Mrs. L.H.Harris, “Law in the Valley,” American Illustrated Magazine 63 (November 1907):20–24.
For descriptions of these magazines, see Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp. iv, 362, 544– 50, 692–93. For readers’ praise of these novels, see Talmadge, Harris, p. 112.
Corra Harris, A Circuit Rider’s Wife (Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1910), pp. 56, 253, 323. Two other novels, A Circuit Rider’s Widow (1916) and My Son (1921), completed the “circuit rider” trilogy. Like A Circuit Rider’s Wife, A Circuit Rider’s Widow sharply criticizes the high-handedness of the Methodist hierarchy. My Son blasts theological modernism and left-wing radicalism.
Corra Harris, The Recording Angel, introduction by Edwin Mims (1912; repr. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1926), pp. 3, 4, 28.
Ibid., pp. 9, 61, 88. On Page, see Hobson, Tell About the South, pp. 164–65.
Harris, Recording Angel, pp. 25–26, 42–43.
Ibid., pp. 4, 83, 126.
On the number of UDC chapters in each of the states as of 1910, see Margaret Nell Price, “The Development of Leadership by Southern Women Through Clubs and Organizations,” M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina, 1945, p. 180. The strength of the Lost Cause as a cultural force around the turn of the century is emphasized in a number of recent works: Susan Speare Durant, “The Gently Furled Banner: The Development of the Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900,” Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1972, pp. 179–80; Rollin G. Osterweis, The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1973); Steve Davis, “Johnny Reb in Perspective: The Confederate Soldier’s Image in Southern Arts,” Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1979, pp. 117, 123, 136; Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980), p. 162; Gaines Milligan Foster, “Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, History, and the Culture of the New South, 1865–1913,” Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1982, pp. 281–284.
Harris, Recording Angel, p. 81.
Ibid., p. 318.
Corra Harris, Eve’s Second Husband (Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1911), pp. 11, 39–40, 62–63, 77, 126; The Co-Citizens (1915; repr. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, n.d.), pp. 70, 128–30, 142–44, 186–90 passim; Sunup to Sundown (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1919), pp. 150–51.
Hobson, Tell About the South, p. 11; Singal, The War Within, pp. 8–9; Edwin Mims, Introduction, The Recording Angel, p. ix.
By the time of Harris’s death in 1935, she believed that southern writers had become too critical of the region. William Faulkner and Erskine Caldwell were, she said, the “Peeping Toms of Literature” who emphasized “whatever is evil and scandalous in the South.” Talmadge, Harris, p. 144. The evolution of her attitude parallels that of her contemporary Ellen Glasgow. See Ellen Glasgow to Irita Van Doren, September 8, 1953, Letters of Ellen Glasgow, ed. Blair Rouse (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), pp. 143–44, and Singal, The War Within, p. 103.
C.Hugh Holman, “No More Monoliths, Please: Continuities in the MultiSouths,” in Philip Castille and William Osborne, eds., Southern Literature in Transition: Heritage and Promise (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1983), pp. xix-xx.