Document Type

Book Chapter

Abstract

William Gilmore Simms's Unfinished Civil War measures the effects of the Civil War and its aftermath on one of the Old South's foremost intellectuals. Simms's mid-nineteenth-century poems, novels, and essays and the personal and societal trauma and destruction Simms experienced are all portrayed here. This collection of essays by historians and literary scholars first explores William Gilmore Simms's antebellum treatment of the role of warfare in America's past and the South's future. The contributors then consider the impact of the secession crisis, the Civil War, and the Confederate defeat on Simms's and other white and black Southerners' perceptions of their much-changed world. Next Simms's life, published writings, and thoughts during the war and its aftermath are examined. Finally Simms's late poetry and fictions, especially explicit and implicit commentaries on the postwar South, are analyzed. His last oration, The Sense of the Beautiful, published shortly before his death in 1870, is the subject of several essays. William Gilmore Simms's Unfinished Civil War reconstructs from both published writings and private letters the conscious and unconscious effects of the Civil War upon the writer and Southern patriot. Drawing on the fields of history, literature, and even archaeology, this interdisciplinary volume demonstrates that the anticipation, course, and consequences of the war were central in shaping Simms's writings from the 1840s to 1870.

Excerpted from USC Press.

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