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Touring Literary Mississippi

Touring Literary Mississippi

Patti Carr Black
Marion Barnwell
Copyright Date: 2002
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  • Book Info
    Touring Literary Mississippi
    Book Description:

    By taking the literary traveler on seven preplanned tours--through the Delta, along Highway 61, to the heart of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha country, to sites near Interstate 55 and the Natchez Trace, to the piney woods of East and South Mississippi, and along the sun-struck Gulf Coast--this book captures the phenomenal abundance and diversity of Mississippi literature.

    More than a guidebook, this book includes capsule biographies and well over a hundred photographs of writers, their residences, and their literary environments. It also provides maps and gives explicit directions to writers' homes and other literary sites.

    The sheer number of writers discovered, recovered, and claimed by Mississippi will astonish travelers both from within and from without the state. Included are not only such major figures in the pantheon of American literature as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, and Richard Wright but also the less well-known.

    Every nook and cranny of the state claims a piece of Mississippi's literary heritage. Literature pervades Yazoo City, Jackson, Greenville, Oxford, Natchez, the Gulf Coast, and the Delta Blues country. Willie Morris, Richard Ford, and Beverly Lowry have declared that a famous writer's presence in their hometowns convinced them that they too could be writers.

    As the locations bring to life the connection of ordinary rituals with the stuff of fiction, poetry, and memoir, these hands-on tours make evident the special cross-pollination of writer and community in Mississippi.

    Patti Carr Black is the author ofArt in Mississippi, 1720-1980andThe Southern Writers Quiz Book(both published by the University Press of Mississippi).

    Marion Barnwell, a fiction writer and an assistant professor of English at Delta State University, compiled and editedA Place Called Mississippi(published by the University Press of Mississippi).

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-799-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-1)
  4. Delta Tour
    (pp. 3-41)

    The Mississippi River has shaped the history of Greenville. Beginning in the 1840s, celebrated steamboats such as thePargo,theNatchez,theRobert E. Lee,and theBelle of the Bendsmade stops this port city. In Greenville, the river has continued to attract commerce and trade, creating a melting pot of Caucasians, African Americans, Jews, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Syrians, and others.

    Incorporated in 1870, the city was named for Revolutionary War general Nathaniel Greene and the county for his friend George Washington. In the nineteenth century the Grand Opera House in this cosmopolitan city was a standard bearer for...

  5. Highway 61 Tour
    (pp. 43-73)

    The blues were born in the Mississippi Delta. As early as the 1890s, blues musicians plucked their guitars and sang their songs of oppression, hope, joy, love, or sorrow along Highway 61, long before Bob Dylan wrote a song about it. Originating from field hollers, spirituals, work chants, and slave songs, the blues were shaped by the harsh conditions African Americans suffered while laboring in cotton fields under a relentless sun.

    The blues began to flourish when sharecropping, with its relative mobility, replaced the static plantation system and cross-fertilization between musicians became possible. Freedom of movement was itself a celebrated...

  6. 1-55 Tour
    (pp. 75-117)

    Southaven is a prosperous suburb of Memphis. It was once home to the world-famous suspense writer John Grisham (see Oxford). Grisham grew up here and later returned to practice law after graduating from Ole Miss.

    A poet and judge, Walter Malone (1866–1915) was born in a large, white, two-story home acquired by his father in 1859. The house no longer exists, and the neighborhood is now filled with fashionable homes, newly built.

    Among Malone’s distinguished family members were his father, who served as a physician in the war with Mexico, his uncle, who died at the Alamo, and his...

  7. Yoknapatawpha Tour
    (pp. 119-157)

    William Faulkner died here in Wright’s Sanitarium, a small private hospital. For over thirty years it was Faulkner’s refuge where he went to dry out after drinking bouts. On July 6, 1962, he died of a thrombosis.

    Beautiful Holly Springs was once the most literary town in north Mississippi. After it was made the county seat of Marshall County in 1836, the town prospered. Rich cotton lands and a rail line linking it to New Orleans afforded Holly Springs the good life. Like the older Natchez to the south, Holly Springs had wealthy citizens, cotillions, music, drama, educational institutions, handsome...

  8. Natchez Trace Tour
    (pp. 159-191)

    The Natchez country was considered a romantic and exotic land as soon as it was inhabited by the French. Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), a French-Canadian academic, traveled through the area in 1721–1722 and later wroteHistoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France(1744).

    Over a half century later, without having ever visited the area, Frenchman François-Auguste-René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) popularized it in France and the United States with his 1801 epic,Atala, or the Love of Two Savages in the Desert,a tale of the Natchez Indians. He based his descriptions of the land on Charlevoix’s...

  9. East and South Mississippi Tour
    (pp. 193-227)

    Corinth, with its beautiful Grecian name, was once proudly called Cross City because it marked the junction of two railroads, the new technology that would assure its future. It prospered and was renamed in 1855 for the great crossroads city of Greece.

    The same railroad tracks that brought prosperity became a liability less than a decade later when opposing armies focused on them. The Civil War’s Battle of Shiloh, Siege of Corinth, and Battle of Corinth were all fought to control the transportation lines that ran through the town.

    Today Corinth is a city of poets. Henry Dalton, Jonathan Brooks,...

  10. Gulf Coast Tour
    (pp. 229-252)

    Born in Natchez, John Francis Hamtramck Claiborne (1807–1884) had a home here called Laurel Wood, a Louisiana-style plantation house located off Highway 90, south of Pearlington, facing Mulatto Bayou. The house was demolished some time after World War II by a pulpwood company. In the early 1850s, when talk of secession arose, Claiborne, a “states’ rights Unionist,” removed himself from politics and retreated to Laurel Wood.

    A nephew of W. C. C. Claiborne, the first governor of the Mississippi Territory, Claiborne’s father was commander of the Mississippi Volunteers in the War of 1812. Claiborne himself became involved in public...

  11. Credit List
    (pp. 253-256)
  12. Index
    (pp. 257-270)