Page:Southern Life in Southern Literature.djvu/9
In this book I have endeavored to represent as adequately as might be possible within the limits of a volume of moderate size the work of the more important Southern writers. My attempt has been not merely to show the value of literary effort in the South as absolute achievement but also to emphasize its importance as a record of Southern life and character.
Taking literature in the stricter sense of fiction, essay, and poetry, I have omitted the historians, the biographers, and the political writers so frequently used to swell the bulk of Southern literature. In poetry I have endeavored to select poems which have attained some measure of general critical approval. But in some instances, especially in the Civil War poetry, I have included poems obviously without much literary merit because they were household poems of an older generation and embodied in a characteristic way the traditions and spirit of the people who loved them. For much the same reason I have included a few specimens of the vanishing survivals of old English ballads to the presence of which in the South attention has lately been turned.
In the case of the older prose writers, I have drawn upon a very limited number of the most significant works. As most of these were out of print or difficult to secure, I have tried to give a general idea of each by means of liberal excerpts and suitable summaries. Coming to the recent novelists and story-writers, whose number is almost legion, I was compelled to confine myself rigidly to the five pioneers in the new development of fiction