Could somebody explain to a non-American why the South was so special a place in the late 19th/early 20th century USA? What made it so markedly different from the North, why was it such a fertile ground for literature, or why is it that the North seemingly didn't end up developing a similarly unique cultural milieu as the South did?
I think they lost a war or something.
>>15744568To be more precise, the South lost the War of Northern Agression
>>15744498Yankee North was inundated by non-Western European immigration, leaving only the most affluent Anglo(phile) elite in the urban areas; Southern gentry more diffuse territorially being agricultural territory. The literary output of the North leaned anglophillic where in the past it had been francophillic from the founding; the shift occurred along with the power elite shuffle leading into the Civil War (and Brit centric/favorable public education as we now know it; omission of Persian as a classical culture en par with the Greeks/Romans/Indian is a part of this.) North go modernist full tilt, South cleaves to legacy Americana and romance of the Lost Cause.
>>15744498The United States was based on the idea of liberalism and representative government. The North imposed its will upon the South in a way that would have completely eliminated the culture and lifestyle of all Southerners, against the idea that their people could govern themselves. This resulted in a war in which the Southerners attempted to preserve their lifestyle and culture. The South lost this war, in a way that was inevitable and probably known to be inevitable, and aside from having their lifestyle and culture utterly abolished basically overnight, they also had their territory burned to the ground. The North's attempt to help them rebuild was basically a joke, and as the final cherry on top, they now had to attempt to coexist with the people over whom they previously had ownership, and they have and forever will be viewed by history as the villains. Probably the epicenter of the most profound human suffering process in history. Similar to the Japanese after WWII. Faulkner characterizes this extremely well, and The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! are two of the greatest novels ever written. Shakespeare-tier.
>>15744498>dozens of cities had been completely destroyed>slaves were freed>wealth was garnished>infrastructure was completely destroyed (specifically roads and railways)>they were immediately impoverished>had lost hundreds of thousands of young men>and then were force to reunite with their victorsHow would you feel?
>>15744614Beautiful post, anon. I agree about Absalom, Absalom! being just an astoundingly great novel. Probably the best that the US has produced, and as great a 'national novel' as I can imagine.Only thing I would add is that the South was really one of the last places (at least in the US) where agrarianism made a legitimate stand against capitalism. Of course it lost, but the memory of it is still there, though it fades today with alarming alacrity.>>15744498Despite the agrarian sympathies that I allude to above, I *highly* recommend starting with WJ Cash's "Mind of the South," which will give a very good background as to what has made the South the South and the mindset that has led to its cultural output..
>>15744498They were seeded differently. The North by proto-bourgeois religious zealots and the South by neo-aristocratic planters. Pretty much all the previous posts get the scope of the issues that emerged from this difference in upbringing.
>>15744498Pretty cool seeing what people think of American dynamics and history out of America.
>>15745399Bizarre seeing how Americans see American history.
>>15745432Why is that? You need to keep in mind that geographically America is roughly the size of Europe. Why wouldn't Germans, Italians, French, and English all have different views of WWI?
>>15745445It’s not that there are too many perspectives, but that there are too few. Or none at all (ask your average Joe how they feel about what happened that Haymarket Square). The kind of nuance you see in this thread just doesn’t exist in the American discourse at all.
>>15745504I suppose that's fair enough, but I'd suggest that the same nuance is lacking in the average European. You have to keep in mind that the US Civil War was in the 1860s. I don't know how much the average German or Frenchman could tell you about, say, the Franco-Prussian War and its impacts on regional/national culture.The vast majority of people all over the world are content to ignore history that isn't immediately relevant to them.
>>15745528I think we’re in the same boat (and that’s a failure on both continents), and I agree, but I’d wager that the average European at least knows what the Franco-Prussian War was. I guarantee you that everything but the Civil and Revolutionary Wars are largely forgotten here, and what’s left is purely enframed by immediate political concerns. What do you build out of that? Didn’t they teach Greek and Latin in schools at some point?
>>15745528>>15745564Please excuse any typos, by the way, I’m hammered.
>>15745584No worries anon. Have been drinking a bit myself as well.
>>15744498I've lived in Georgia all my life, and this place still hasn't recovered from being completely burned to its foundations. Basically the anons above are right, the South was rooted in an entirely different way of life than the North, and they just couldn't go on as one country without one of the two submitting. By Faulkner's time he knew his home was a dead husk of what it once was.I had ancestors on both sides, and I live about five minutes from a battlefield that my great-great-grandfather fought at that's now a national park. Funnily enough, he was from Philadelphia and fought for the Union under Sherman, and I didn't know about him until just a few years ago.
>>15745691I’m a Nevada Yankee, and my only tie to America past 1880 is through a relative who fought for Tennessee. I can sympathize. It’s weird.
If the confederacy survived would it have been a literary powerhouse today?
>>15745748The Confederate South would have been the lighthouse of of modern culture. Unfortunately we will never experience Southern renaissance in our lifetimes.
>>15744614>and aside from having their lifestyle and culture utterly abolished basically overnightBecause slavery was a good things right? lmao. Even for most whites slavery fucking sucked, because how could a modest independent farmer compete with all the free labor the plantation owners had at their disposal. Slavery sucked for everyone except for a sliver of elites that have literally ruined things for everyone now. Why am I being blamed for "muh white privilege", and "slavery", when no body in my genealogy owned slaves. Right now all white people in America are being demonized for the shitty thing that only a minority of wealthy southern land barons were involved with.
>>15745714I don't actually know the details of the southern side of my family because they were dirt-poor illiterate sharecroppers from South Carolina, but there's no way none of them fought. My dad hates all his living relatives with a passion so I haven't spoken to them since I was five, but from what I understand, they moved to America so long ago and spent the whole time in such squalor that they no longer remember what parts of Europe they came from.They don't even know their real family name anymore. About a century ago the entire family changed it to help one of them hide from the cops, and my dad doesn't know why. Now it sounds like one of those names freed slaves made up.
>>15745798>Because slavery was a good things right? lmao. Even for most whites slavery fucking sucked, because how could a modest independent farmer compete with all the free labor the plantation owners had at their disposal.1 - you are ignoring the difference between an agrarian society and a capitalist society. You're actually using capitalist terms and logic to describe the South when they don't actually fit well.2 - Slavery was clearly wrong. But there is an argument to be made that slaves in the South didn't have it any worse than tenement dwelling factory workers in the North.And as far as the North not being complicit in Slavery, New York was the second largest importer of slaves in the US right after New Orleans.
>>15745798You admit that the slave-owners were a small sliver of the South’s population and condemn the South overall on their behalf. Appalachian people are being ground under the same moral wheel as the planters’ sons, along with farmers from the West and Midwest and Hispanic people from the Southwest (why?), under the auspices of a hyperreal moral crusade championed by the editorial board of the New York fucking Times. This isn’t “were the slave-owners right?,” it’s “do Southerners deserve to suffer for the sins of their masters?” >>15745817There’s a reason plenty of people from that region just check “American” on the census. Very interesting, thank you.
>>15745796Pure delusion. We were an economic disaster waiting to happen, the wealthy were completely refusing to industrialize in order to keep their neo-feudal larp going and every other western country had long since done away with slaves. We would still have more neat old buildings up today but we'd be like the impoverished Greeks of North America.>>15745798Whether the culture was "good" or not is irrelevant to his point, which is that it was forcibly stamped out and left as a festering wound that still hasn't healed.
Maybe because I'm not American, but Faulkner's romances have something that is hard to explain (the contradictions and weight?) and it comes from Melville, Twain and James. I can't remember a recent American book with this.
>>15745875God bless you. >>15745910Neo-Puritans fear moral ambiguity above all else. And that’s who runs publishing.
>>15745874Yeah, "American" was exactly what they told my mom when she asked them about it. She's from an Irish Catholic family and, being from the North, everybody had a list of all their major and minor ethnicites. My dad's family legitimately had no idea what she was talking about, there was simply no connection back to Europe left.>>15745910Beyond the obvious fact that published literature has just gone to shit in general, Faulkner was from a unique time when he wasn't raised in the glory days but just after them, when the ruins were still there and his own family could fondly recall everything. Today it's gone. The cities and suburbs of the south are mostly composed of people who moved here from somewhere else (even I was born in Maryland, I just don't remember it), and the rural areas have nothing left but methheads and immobile seniors watching televangelists all day. I go to the mountains in north Georgia a lot and now I actively make sure to buy everything I need before I leave because going to the grocery store there depresses me so much. Every single person looks like they're about to keel over and die, half from old age, the other half from morbid obesity.
>>15745875>which is that it was forcibly stamped out and left as a festering wound that still hasn't healed.Okay, yeah I agree with you on that
>>15746011I want to kiss you on the mouth. Thanks for your contribution.