Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beach Reading

I picked it up, anyway, in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, and read some pages of it on Spring Lake's beach: Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War by Edmund Wilson. I have looked so far at what is familiar to me or interesting. As far as the familiar goes, Wilson's remarks on Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman seem just; his Lee and Holmes sound like the Lee and Holmes I've read of in passing.

Among the unfamiliar, I'd be interested to read some of Mary Chesnut, Albion Tourgee, and George Cable. I'd be particularly interested to read Francis Grierson's The Valley of Shadows, and perhaps excerpts from Frederick Law Olmsted's The Cotton Kingdom. I doubt I'll undertake the 1400 pages of Alexander Stephens's A Constitutional View of the Late War between the States; and likely enough Patriotic War and I will part ways before I've read every one of its 800 pages. Mostly likely the details of Wilson's judgments on H.B. Stowe and Sidney Lanier will escape me.

Wilson published the book in 1962, during the centennial of the Civil War, which he called "this absurd centennial--a day of mourning would be more appropriate".

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