Defining Southern Literature: Perspectives and Assessments, by John Earl Bassett

By John Earl Bassett

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In the June issue of The Magnolia he accused The Knickerbocker of antiSouthern attitudes; and in August The Knickerbocker countered by saying that it favored “Southern literature and periodicals” but that Simms, he of the “labored romances,” was ungracious. Simms made a similar attack on the North American Review in 1845, and the Broadway Journal for onewas ecstatic that someone would lay into Boston’s “poor old decrepit Quarterly magazine” and the Whipple crowd “who are fast rocking it into slumber (13337-39).

When Rivers informs the devoted girl whom he has forsaken, and whose peace he has destroyed forever, of his approaching nuptials with another, the victim recalls him to a sense of his cruelty. He reproves her rashly, and bids her cease her repinings. It were easy to transfer to the canvass the pathetic scene which follows: . x * * A distinguishingfeature of “Guy Rivers” is the versatility of talent which it displays in the description of character. A charming individuality in each, is never lost sight of.

Bunce, the pedlar, Maxon, the sheriff, the honest Forrester, and Chub Williams, are of quite a different mould from the other dramatis personae, but we are equally interested in their personations. If they are witty, they are so of their own accord, and not because the author has amusing things in his mind which desires he them to utter. The reader will smile at the palpable hit at theYankee appendages in conversation, in theannexed abstract. The pedler,Bunce, in a conversation with Chub Williams, a southern original, expresses a fear that “things will go agin” Ralph Colleton, who,upon suspicion of being the murderer of Forrester, has been arrested through the machinationsof the real assassins, and thrown into prison to await his trial.

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