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Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, The Hardcover – April 1, 1987

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund (April 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865970572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865970571
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Reed on October 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a marvelous book, and a marvelous collection of essays, written by a clear and conscientious southern conservative. Richard Weaver was heir to the Southern Agrarian tradition of protest and opposition to the directions modern American society and politics was taking, particularly in the New Deal and post WW II eras. Writers like John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson, Allan Tate, Caroline Gordon and Robert Penn Warren, were caustic critics of modernity, of the decline in community, and a sense of the common good. Weaver, an english professor who might better be described as an intellectual, lived, learned, and worked in this tradition. Of all the essays in this collection, all of which are well written and thoughtful, two stand out in my mind. His essay on 'Lee the Philosopher' captures the pragmatic and common-sense spirit of southern political and social thought. Southerners felt little need for abstract theorizing, or great theoretical and philosophical models. Simple, everyday ideas, the ideals of common sense and everyday life, were more than enough for the down-to-earth farmers and planters of the American South. Weaver does a brilliant job of portraying Genl Lee as the epitome of the southern ideal of both gentlemanly duty and social thought. The second wonderful piece is 'The Two Types of American Individualism'. Weaver contrasts the individualism of a character like John Randolph of Roanoke, a fixture on the Virginia political scene in the early 1800's, with the individualism of Thoreau (and by implication the North). Randolph was a supreme example of an eccentric indivdual.Read more ›
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By DR EP Christmann on June 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In short, if you are a friend of the South, or would like to read the words of a man who can explain the conservative axiology, this book is for you. The contents are essential for anyone seeking a neoclassical education. For me, reading Richard Weaver's Southern Essays brings together the final sentences of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily."
"Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair."
The book is a monument to Lee and Jackson. Anyone who wants to understand Picket's charge needs to read this excellent book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. J. on April 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Thought by some to be the best Southern thinker since Calhoun, Richard Weaver in these essays sets forth his views on a variety of sujects relating to the South. The fourteen that make up this book discuss Weaver's thoughts on Southern agrarianism, literature, history, education, religion, and politics. In attempting to deal honestly with the strengths and weaknesses of his native region, Weaver helps the average American understand why the South is "different" and that much can be learned from those differences. He deals quite severely with modernism, condemning it in part (interestingly enough) for its view of nature. The difference between the modernist and Southern perspectives on nature? The Southerner sees nature as an inscrutable fellow creation that must be lived alongside. The modernist sees nature as an enemy to be conquered (plus dissected and labeled). But Weaver also readily breaks down illusions about that great citizen of the frog pond, Henry David Thoreau. Weaver goes on to explain why Southern exhibit less interest in analytical learning than Northerners: the deeper truths that interest the Southerner most will not be found by his becoming a shrewd businessman or a successful researcher.

There are a few points of Weaver's with which I might be inclined to disagree, but most are very minor. Readers should understand that because these essays are around fifty years old, they unfortunately cannot deal with the currently popular postmodernism (really a rehashing of the old romantic philosophy: i.e., Wordsworth and Byron). So some of Weaver's criticisms are not completely applicable to today's ideas and must be taken partially as historical commentary. All of the essays, however, provide penetrating insights that are invaluable to anyone who genuinely wants to understand the South.
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