Literary and Critical Theory John Crowe Ransom
by
Kieran Quinlan
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0070

Introduction

John Crowe Ransom (b. 30 April 1888–d. 3 July 1974) was an American poet, Southern Agrarian, literary critic, and editor of the Kenyon Review, arguably the most influential “little magazine” of the mid-20th century. Educated at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Ransom began writing poetry as a member of the Fugitive group that included Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren and had its own short-lived magazine in the early 1920s. Most of the poems on which his reputation rests—often on love or death, never long, sometimes quirky, and with intermittent archaic wording—are to be found in Chills and Fever (1924) and Two Gentlemen in Bonds (1927). Ransom won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1951 and the National Book Award for his Selected Poems in 1964. Following their Fugitive period, Ransom and his associates moved on to become Agrarians, arguing in their 1930 I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition that the South’s distinctive characteristic was its agrarian culture, separating it from both the capitalist industrial North and Soviet Communism. As an English professor at Vanderbilt where historical studies of literary texts took precedence, Ransom argued and eventually won the cause of the literary critic, a victory that over time changed the hierarchies in the profession at large. The text itself, its structures and images and their complex interrelationship, was what was most important. His 1941 volume of theoretical essays, The New Criticism, made Ransom the quasi founding father—there were many others—of a movement that would dominate the academy for the next three decades. Always fascinated by, but wary of, the sciences as their place within the university increased exponentially, Ransom sought over and over to define the kind of supplementary but equally essential knowledge that poetry offered. As founding editor of the Kenyon Review in 1939 and director of the Kenyon School of English, Ransom exercised enormous influence on both the teaching of literature at American colleges and universities, and on several emerging poets and novelists, most notably Robert Lowell. By the mid-1960s, however, many of Ransom’s critical and social positions had come under challenge, as has his status as a “major minor poet” in several recent critiques. Nevertheless, current studies are also finding overlooked fissures in his poems, and, in the age of digitized textuality, fresh inspiration in his Agrarian and New Critical forays.

General Overview

Ransom’s creative and academic --careers fall neatly into two phases—the first at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (1919–1937), the second at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio (1937–1969); both of these phases themselves split rather neatly again in two: that at Vanderbilt into his poetic (as a member of the Fugitive group) and Agrarian pursuits, respectively; the Kenyon phase into his New Critic and journal-editing activities. There are two important consequences: (1) Apart from Young 1976 (cited under Biography), there is no comprehensive study of all phases of Ransom’s career, though there are numerous accounts of one or more of them, even if most of his late essays go relatively unexamined; (2) most of the book-length studies of Ransom tend to include the other Fugitives and the other Agrarians; the same is true for his involvement in the New Criticism. Hence the annotations here take these circumstances into account in dealing with the more comprehensive studies. Also included are chapters and sections of books that deal significantly, if briefly, with Ransom’s entire career. Overall, Ransom published about 150 poems and roughly the same number of essays and articles; about a dozen of his poems and an equal number of his essays have continued to attract scholarly attention and sometimes unexpectedly diverse interpretations. Cowan 1959 is essential reading on the Fugitives’ inauspicious beginnings in Nashville, their transition from discussing philosophical matters to writing and workshopping their poetry, and some of their early intellectual differences before they moved on to their Agrarian phase; Parsons 1969 (cited under Commentary on Poetry), is confined to opinionated studies of Ransom’s poems ; Rubin 1978 offers a short overview of Ransom as Fugitive, Agrarian, religious thinker, and critic; Quinlan 2015 is an introduction to the three main Fugitives, Agrarians, and New Critics; Vendler 2016 re-evaluates Ransom’s achievements while finding fault with his understanding of irony and use of lyric; the selection of essays in Young 1968 covers all phases of Ransom’s career from a fairly traditional viewpoint.

  • Cowan, Louise. The Fugitive Group: A Literary History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959.

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    The focus here is decidedly on the Fugitives as a group, but the study does consider the individual participants, with a traditional Ransom as leader and a modernist Allen Tate (formerly Ransom’s student) as his admiring but contentious nemesis. Comprehensive up to 1928. Essential reading.

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    • Quinlan, Kieran. “Tracking the Fugitive Poets.” In The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry. Edited by Walter Kalaidjian, 116–127. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

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      Overview of the Fugitives and Agrarians aimed at undergraduate and graduate students. Focus is on a handful of poems from Ransom, Tate, and Warren and an assessment of the current status of their respective legacies. Includes basic commentary on Ransom’s criticism.

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      • Rubin, Louis D. The Wary Fugitives: Four Poets and the South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.

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        A very readable account by one of the most prolific scholars of Southern literature in the second half of the 20th century. Ransom is considered on pp. 1–62 in a chapter that covers his career as poet but also delves into God without Thunder (Ransom 1930, cited under Prose), his Agrarian phase, and his theoretical claims; offers close readings of a few of Ransom’s most important poems.

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        • Vendler, Helen. “Poet of the Violent and the Chaste.” New York Review of Books 63.7 (2016): 44–46.

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          Essay-review of the Collected Poems (Ransom 2015, cited under Poetry) edited by Mazer; revisits Ransom’s entire opus to determine his current status. Ransom’s essays praised for their wit and readability, the Kenyon Review for its unparalleled influence, the original New Critics for starting out as well-informed poets concerned with the labor and constraints of composition, rather than ignorers of history; however, many of Ransom’s poems expose “damaging weaknesses” (p. 44).

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          • Young, Thomas Daniel, ed. John Crowe Ransom: Critical Essays and a Bibliography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968.

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            Convenient overview that with its introduction and sixteen essays covers all phases of Ransom’s career as it was seen in the late 1960s. Notable contributions include Robert Penn Warren on irony, Randall Jarrell on Ransom’s best poems, Vivienne Koch on his use of archaic language, Karl F. Knight on symbol, Graham Hough on Ransom as poet and critic, and F. P. Jarvis on the influence of F. H. Bradley’s philosophy.

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            Bibliographies

            There is no comprehensive bibliography for Ransom. However, there are two excellent ones that together cover the territory up to the late 1970s. Young 1982 includes both primary and secondary sources with variable-length annotations. Abbott 1999, while much more complete—indeed exhaustive—confines itself to Ransom’s writings and contemporary reviews of them. It does not deal with the scholarship.

            • Abbott, Craig S. John Crowe Ransom: A Descriptive Bibliography. Troy, NY: Whitston, 1999.

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              Impressively comprehensive, including books, pamphlets, offprints, first appearances and reprints, and sound recordings. Notes that Ransom tended to change details of essays as well as of poems. Introduction is rather laudatory.

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              • Young, Thomas Daniel. John Crowe Ransom: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1982.

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                Offers 896 annotated entries in 153 pages on Ransom’s own writings, reviews of them, and critical commentary up to the late 1970s. Annotations are a bit uneven and a few items are missing, but thorough overall. Still essential for scholars.

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                Biography

                There is just one full biography of Ransom, Young 1976, an indispensable source; the poet’s letters in Ransom 1985 provide a useful supplement and contain some important critical statements not available elsewhere.

                • Ransom, John Crowe. Selected Letters of John Crowe Ransom. Edited by Thomas Daniel Young and George Core. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.

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                  Apart from detailed day-to-day information that gives a sense of the arc of Ransom’s life and interests, contains some important comments on his poetry and especially on its theoretical underpinnings. Note especially his comment to Tate on p. 236 concerning strategies for influencing the profession nationally.

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                  • Young, Thomas Daniel. Gentleman in a Dustcoat: A Biography of John Crowe Ransom. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976.

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                    The standard biography. Of its time, but a mine of information on academic life and its anxieties in the early 20th century, the struggle to shape and reshape the discipline of English literature, and Ransom’s trajectory from Southern “Lost Cause” nostalgist, to “moonlight and magnolia” rejecting Fugitive, then to “unregenerate” Agrarian, to New Critic, and the glory days of the Kenyon Review. Has important original comments not easily found elsewhere.

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                    Personal Reminiscences

                    All of the works in this section give insights into Ransom and, apart from Purdy 1959, were published after Young 1976 (cited under Biography). All are in the main, benign. The authors of Brooks 1989, Dew 1976 (by Ransom’s granddaughter), and Hecht 1980 knew Ransom well, while the author of Duff 2013 had only a passing encounter. Purdy 1959 is of major importance as it brings many of the original Fugitives together forty years later to reflect on the movement.

                    • Brooks, Cleanth. “John Crowe Ransom: As I Remember Him.” American Scholar 58.2 (1989): 211–233.

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                      A memoir and critique by one of Ransom’s most famous protégés, founder—with Robert Penn Warren—of the influential and partly rival Southern Review (1935), popularizer of the New Criticism in Understanding Poetry (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1938), and an eminence in the Yale English Department. A clear account of Ransom’s successive intellectual interests, pointing out some differences between himself and Ransom as to the nature of poetry. Compares Ransom to Matthew Arnold.

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                      • Dew, Robb Forman. “Summer’s End.” Mississippi Quarterly 30.1 (1976): 137–154.

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                        A short, but more intimate memoir of Ransom in old age is provided by his novelist granddaughter.

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                        • Duff, Gerald. Fugitive Days. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books, 2013.

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                          Author recalls meeting the Fugitive poets, including Ransom, in the 1960s. A very personal narrative in which an aging Ransom doesn’t fare too well, though there’s a human touch throughout. Earlier version in Southwest Review 97.2 (2012): 274–288.

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                          • Hecht, Anthony. “John Crowe Ransom.” American Scholar 49.3 (1980): 379–383.

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                            Hecht, post army service in the 1940s, was for a time Ransom’s student at Kenyon and here recalls the poet’s legendary stature among his students, his innate courtesy, and lack of any need to dominate. Also has useful comments on Ransom’s essay style in comparison with T. S. Eliot’s, and offers insightful observations on a couple of poems. Finds Ransom’s prose reminiscent of George Santayana’s.

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                            • Purdy, Rob Roy, ed. Fugitives’ Reunion: Conversations at Vanderbilt. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1959.

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                              An edited record of Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, and others associated with the Fugitive movement gathering funereally and some rather reluctantly in 1956 to reminisce about the past with its achievements and failures in what turned out to be a lively conversation funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

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                              Primary Sources

                              For the general reader, Ransom’s poetry is best accessed in Ransom 1945 (cited under Poetry), his Selected Poems (there are several later editions too); for the scholar, Ransom 2015 (cited under Poetry), his Collected Poems edited by Ben Mazer is the desired volume. Nearly all of the dozen or so most important of Ransom’s one hundred plus essays are to be found in Ransom 1941 (cited under Prose), Ransom 1947 (cited under Prose), Ransom 1955 (cited under Prose), Ransom 1971 (cited under Prose), and Ransom 1984 (cited under Prose). However, several significant essays are only available in the databases for the journals in which they first appeared (most often the Kenyon Review).

                              Poetry

                              In his short poetic career from 1916 to 1927, Ransom published just four original books of poetry. The first, an amateur effort that he soon wished to discard; the second, a “mature” collection from among those poems he had already published in The Fugitive; the third, a compilation of poems from his first and second volumes, chosen by Robert Graves and published in London by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press; and the fourth, again, his “mature” work. Later he culled poems from volumes two and four to form his Selected Poems of which there are several editions. Ransom also revised several of the poems on several occasions and added a few more. Nevertheless, his main poetic output is in Ransom 1924a, and Ransom 1927. Although most of his poems appeared first in The Fugitive, they are more easily accessed in the collections. Ransom 2015 has the advantage of containing all his poems—early, mature, late, edited, and reedited. Until very recently, Ransom was represented in most American Literature anthologies by two or three of his best-known poems, typically “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter” and “Janet Waking.”

                              • Ransom, John Crowe. Poems about God. New York: Henry Holt, 1919.

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                                The poems here were written during Ransom’s time as an artillery officer in France in World War I. Embarrassed by their poor quality, he refused to have them republished, though Robert Frost and Robert Graves admired them. Nevertheless, the poems are of some interest in regard to the development of Ransom’s thought and technique. They were also early inspirations for the Fugitive group as a whole.

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                                • Ransom, John Crowe. Chills and Fever. New York: Knopf, 1924a.

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                                  Some of Ransom’s most celebrated poems appeared in this volume, including “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter,” “Here Lies a Lady,” and “Captain Carpenter.”

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                                  • Ransom, John Crowe. Grace after Meat. London: Hogarth Press, 1924b.

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                                    Introduction by Robert Graves. Contains Graves’s selections from the poet’s first two books, choices which were likely different from Ransom’s own desires. Graves’s support, however, reconciled Ransom to the publication. Published by Virginia and Leonard Woolf with a recommendation from T. S. Eliot.

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                                    • Ransom, John Crowe. Two Gentlemen in Bonds. New York: Knopf, 1927.

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                                      More of Ransom’s best-known poems—all from the pages of The Fugitive—appeared in this collection: “Vision by Sweetwater,” “Janet Waking,” and “The Equilibrists.”

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                                      • Ransom, John Crowe. Selected Poems. New York: Knopf, 1945.

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                                        While Ransom published several editions of his Selected Poems—in 1945, 1963 (a revised and enlarged edition), and 1969 (more revisions)—this is regarded as his best selection, largely free as it is of his subsequent corrected versions, though the 1969 Selected Poems (Knopf, 1969) should be consulted.

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                                        • Ransom, John Crowe. The Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom. Edited by Ben Mazer. Boston: Un-Gyve Press, 2015.

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                                          The current go-to collection. Beautiful and expensive. Includes a useful introduction on methodology, the motives for Ransom’s revisions, and the mixed responses to them, Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren being critical, Robert Lowell more supportive since Ransom’s editorial practices reflected his own. Includes Ransom’s prefaces and analyses, details of variants, and a section of complete distinctly alternate texts totaling approximately 400 versions of more than 150 poems.

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                                          Prose

                                          Ransom produced just one full-length book, God without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defense of Orthodoxy (Ransom 1930), though the four related essays in The New Criticism (Ransom 1941) are generally seen as a single book. Of the more than one hundred other published essays and articles (about half of them in the Kenyon Review), Ransom gathered thirty-four into three collections with just two repetitions; Ransom 1984 (Young and Hindle, eds.) overlaps with some of these and includes a few more essays; there are also four Ransom essays in Bingham and Underwood 2001 (see under Agrarians). Ransom 1982, though not collected by the poet himself, has appeared in a number of other venues and is an important early comment on T. S. Eliot; Ransom 2006 is his signature and controversial justification of Agrarianism; Ransom 1930 offers a spirited condemnation of an enervated society living under a compassionate Christ rather than the vengeful God of the Old Testament; Ransom 1941 critiques the critics he is drawing on as he opposes and incorporates them in calling for, and partly articulating, a new approach to the explication of poetry; Ransom 1947 and Ransom 1971 contain most of his classic essays; Ransom 1955 with its split between poems and essays is a handy volume; Ransom 1984 (Young and Hindle, eds.) provides a wide selection of essays not easily found elsewhere.

                                          • Ransom, John Crowe. God without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defense of Orthodoxy. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1930.

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                                            Heavy-going philosophical effort to defend the social and cultural importance of believing in an Old Testament thunderous God rather than in the anemic Christ figure of the New Testament by an author who acknowledges that what he is defending is itself a myth.

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                                            • Ransom, John Crowe. The New Criticism. New York: New Directions, 1941.

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                                              Contains essays on I. A. Richards “the Psychological Critic”, T. S. Eliot “the Historical Critic”, and Yvor Winters “the Logical Critic”, ending with a classic statement of Ransom’s “new” critical position, “Wanted: An Ontological Critic.” William Empson is lumped in with Richards.

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                                              • Ransom, John Crowe. The World’s Body. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1947.

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                                                Includes “A Poet Nearly Anonymous” (on Milton’s Lycidas), “The Poet as Woman” (highly gendered evaluations of the work and biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay), and “Criticism, Inc.” (declares that “Criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic” (p. 329). Reprinted in 1968 with some additions.

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                                                • Ransom, John Crowe. Poems and Essays. New York: Vintage, 1955.

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                                                  Contains a selection of forty-four poems and eight essays arranged by Ransom himself, including an essay on Thomas Hardy and “The Concrete Universal: Observations on the Understanding of Poetry.”

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                                                  • Ransom, John Crowe. Beating the Bushes: Selected Essays 1941–1970. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1971.

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                                                    Includes: “Wanted: An Ontological Critic,” “The Concrete Universal,” and “Art and the Human Economy” (Ransom’s farewell to Agrarianism).

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                                                    • Ransom, John Crowe. “Waste Lands.” In T. S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage. Vol. 1. Edited by Michael Grant, 172–179. London: Routledge, 1982.

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                                                      First appearing in the New York Evening Post Literary Review 3 (14 July 1923): 825–826, this is an early and instructive response to T. S. Eliot’s major work, the major poem of the 20th century. Precisely because Ransom laments in great detail the disconnections in the poem and its apparent misuse of classical quotations, this review serves to highlight the newness of Eliot’s techniques in transitioning to high modernism.

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                                                      • Ransom, John Crowe. Selected Essays of John Crowe Ransom. Edited by Thomas Daniel Young and John Hindle. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984.

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                                                        Especially useful because it brings together important short pieces originally published in The Fugitive, classic essays of Ransom’s New Critical phase, and a handful of later essays not easily accessible. A go-to volume with a useful introduction.

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                                                        • Ransom, John Crowe. “Reconstructed but Unregenerate.” In I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. New introduction by Susan V. Donaldson, 1–27. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

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                                                          First published in 1930 (New York: Harper), this landmark essay argues that an agrarian society provides a degree of leisure and contact with the soil more humane than in industrialized societies. Much mocked even in the South as impractical when it first appeared, many of its ideals are still in play. However, note Ransom’s infamous comment on slavery on p. 14.

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                                                          • Ransom, John Crowe. Land! The Case for an Agrarian Economy. Edited by Jason Peters. Introduction by Jay T. Collier. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2017.

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                                                            This posthumous book, thought to have been destroyed by Ransom himself, was discovered by Paul V. Murphy in the Vanderbilt archives (see Murphy 2001 under Agrarians). Although Ransom later rejected his “agrarian nostalgia,” the text—some of which overlaps with published essays—casts useful light on his thinking in the early 1930s and will be of interest in a diversity of circles.

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                                                            Commentary on Poetry

                                                            While the main critiques of Ransom’s poetry separate him from the Fugitive group to consider his achievement in itself, because Ransom was so intimately involved with the group, and especially with his former students Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren, commentary on his work is not infrequently closely allied with theirs. Brooks 1939 sees Ransom as a champion rather than a disrupter of tradition; Buffington 1967 comments incisively on Ransom’s entire oeuvre; Hill 2008 expresses admiration for, and frustration with, Ransom’s poetic progress; Logan 2015 takes the measure of Ransom’s possibly waning importance; Parsons 1969 offers a very acute assessment of Ransom’s best poems; Pratt 1965 is one of the most useful short introductions to the Fugitives with a generous representation of Ransom’s best work; Romine 1993 takes a structuralist approach that downplays the importance of irony in Ransom’s work; Stewart 1965 offers praise and caution; as an unsatisfied reader, Vendler 2016 (cited under General Overview) calls for a reassessment; Warren 1968 provides another broad view of Ransom’s entire oeuvre pointing to its wider philosophical implications; as a fellow poet, Williams 1972 is interested in poetic creation as much as in criticism. (see also Cowan 1959 under General Overview)

                                                            • Brooks, Cleanth. Modern Poetry and the Tradition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.

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                                                              Once Ransom’s student, Brooks, together with Robert Penn Warren, ended up being the leading exemplar of New Critical practice. In the title essay, Brooks focuses on Ransom’s particular use of irony in confronting the abstraction of the age. Reprinted by New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

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                                                              • Buffington, Robert. The Equilibrist: A Study of John Crowe Ransom’s Poems, 1916–1963. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1967.

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                                                                This is a foundational study of the poems in sequence with additional commentary on the later revisions. Useful overview in the introduction where Ransom’s critical theories are connected with his poetic practice. Contends that Ransom’s irony has been overemphasized. Picks favorites.

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                                                                • Hill, Geoffrey. “What Devil Has Got into John Ransom?” In Geoffrey Hill, Collected Critical Writings. Edited by Kenneth Haynes, 127–145. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                  In a 1983 dense but rewarding essay, a major British poet writes admiringly and critically about Ransom’s poems, revisions, and philosophical claims and assertions on style and art, and his whimsical feud with academia.

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                                                                  • Logan, William. “Under the Skin.” New Criterion 34.4 (2015): 69–76.

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                                                                    Ransom gets about two pages in this rather acerbic review of Ransom 2015 (Mazer’s collected/variorum edition of the poems; cited under Poetry), but the judgements are short, smart, and worth attention. He notes too, as has other recent commentary, that in Ransom’s best poems “the pressure of the Southern past and the peculiarities of his own psychology produced, as they did in Faulkner, a mannerism responsive to the darkest currents of character” (p. 72).

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                                                                    • Parsons, Thornton H. John Crowe Ransom. New York: Twayne, 1969.

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                                                                      A selection of Ransom’s best-known poems usefully divided into those about death, love, time and change, and the narrative and whimsical. Also discusses Ransom’s later revisions. Differs vigorously from some of the commentary by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, especially in regard to irony; commends just a small selection of Ransom’s poems.

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                                                                      • Pratt, William. The Fugitive Poets: Modern Southern Poetry in Perspective. New York: Dutton, 1965.

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                                                                        A slender volume with a thirty-four-page lucid account of the group, accompanied by poems from seven of them, including fifteen of Ransom’s best. Still a very handy volume.

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                                                                        • Romine, Scott. “The Invisible I: John Crowe Ransom’s Shadowy Speaker.” Mississippi Quarterly 46.4 (1993): 529–541.

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                                                                          Downplays irony and invokes Roman Jacobson and other theorists—including Ransom himself—to complicate the sense of the speaker in a poem. Drawing on Ransom’s readings for the Yale Series of Recorded Poets as supportive of a distinction “between the ‘speaking’ and the ‘poetic’ voices,” concludes that “Resolving the uncertainty of Ransom’s ‘I’ in terms of normal discourse will ultimately hinder us from hearing what is being said” (p. 538).

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                                                                          • Stewart, John L. The Burden of Time: The Fugitives and Agrarians. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

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                                                                            Focused on the poetry and prose of Ransom (chapters 5 and 6), Tate, and Warren. A comprehensive early effort at a genuine critical history of both groups and how they interacted, based on wide research including conversations with the subjects themselves. Some judgments upset the faithful: praise tempered by noting a “failure” with many of the poems (p. 255), and an “amateurishness” in Ransom’s theoretical writings (p. 305).

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                                                                            • Warren, Robert Penn. “Notes on the Poetry of John Crowe Ransom at His Eightieth Birthday.” Kenyon Review 30.3 (1968): 319–349.

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                                                                              Gives a personal account of Warren’s early difficulties with negotiating between Ransom’s older style and the “Pound-Eliot strain” of the time. Sees Ransom now as basically concerned with “a split in the human personality” that cannot be conclusively resolved (p. 323). Warren moves through all of the collections and draws in references to the criticism as well, ending with a reflection on why Ransom stopped writing poems.

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                                                                              • Williams, Miller. The Poetry of John Crowe Ransom. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1972.

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                                                                                Following an essay on Ransom “The Man, the Poet,” former student and fellow poet Miller examines irony, symbolism, and metaphor in a handful of poems. The last third of the book presents the nine versions of “The Vanity of the Bright Young Men” to “show . . . something of the changes that may occur in a poem on its way to being finished in the poet’s mind” (p. 78); a brief assessment follows.

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                                                                                Agrarians

                                                                                The Agrarian sequel to the Fugitive years, provoked in part by H. L. Mencken’s continuing mockery of an anti-Darwinian South, is very much in play at the moment, reappearing with renewed (and likely “renewable”) energy in the current debates on climate change, while also resurfacing in discussions of a patriarchal and segregationist South. Some studies are focused on what Ransom wrote, others more on how his ideas might be adapted to present needs. Here Malvasi 1997 provides a sympathetic conservative overview. Changing views are also registered in Rubin 1977 where two introductions are included in the reissue of I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, which have been replaced more recently again by the Donaldson 2006 critique in yet another reissue of the collection. Bingham and Underwood 2001 provides contentious views in the introduction, as does Gray 1986 in the Agrarian chapter. Conkin 1988 makes a more grounded historical assessment; Kreyling 1998 and Murphy 2001 are highly critical in terms of gender and racial issues, while Maxwell 2014 broadens the debate to include social attitudes in other areas of the South.

                                                                                • Bingham, Emily, and Thomas A. Underwood, eds. The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays after I’ll Take My Stand. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001.

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                                                                                  Essays by several Agrarians post-1930 during the period of the New Deal. Four Ransom pieces included: “Land! An Answer to the Unemployment Problem”; “Sociology and the Black Belt”; “What Does the South Want?”; “The South Is a Bulwark,” pp. 226–269. Introduction strongly critical of Agrarians especially in regard to their racial and undemocratic views (pp. 19–20), though praises their objections to “excessive materialism and rampant individualism” (p. 21).

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                                                                                  • Conkin, Paul K. The Southern Agrarians. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988.

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                                                                                    A Vanderbilt historian studies the Fugitive and Agrarian movements critically but sympathetically. Useful as an outside perspective in commentary dominated by literary scholars.

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                                                                                    • Donaldson, Susan V. “Introduction.” In I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. ix–xl. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                      Brings together much recent work on issues of gender and race as they relate to the Agrarians’ white Southern focus. The Southern Renaissance is frequently linked with its black counterpart in the Harlem Renaissance in contentious and intriguing ways—for example, Jean Toomer’s Cane (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1923), as an unlikely precursor of the 1930s Agrarians. In all, a repositioning of the movement in the citadel itself.

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                                                                                      • Gray, Richard. Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                        The chapter devoted to the Agrarians is titled “A Climate of Fear,” which gives a clue to the tone of the piece. Draws a comparison between Ransom’s rhetoric in “Reconstructed but Unregenerate” and that of proslavery James Henry Hammond in 1852. Useful for placing the movement in the longer perspective of Southern identity formation from the days of the Virginia colony.

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                                                                                        • Kreyling, Michael. Inventing Southern Literature. Oxford: University of Mississippi Press, 1998.

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                                                                                          Deals with issues of race, gender, and the Fugitive-Agrarian manipulation of William Faulkner’s contribution to the Southern myth. Links Agrarianism to the New Criticism that followed.

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                                                                                          • Malvasi, Mark G. The Unregenerate South: The Agrarian Thought of John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                            Celebrates and endorses the conservatism of the Agrarians while also drawing attention to the differences between them. Two chapters are devoted to Ransom. African American issues tend to be ignored or marginalized.

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                                                                                            • Maxwell, Angie. The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469611648.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                              Deals with issue of regional inferiority from the 1925 Scopes evolution trial, the Southern Agrarians’ I’ll Take My Stand and its continuation in the New Criticism, and Virginia’s resistance to integration. Examines how media scrutiny and ridicule continue to provoke reaction from Southern whites. Extensive references to H. L. Mencken.

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                                                                                              • Murphy, Paul V. The Rebuke of History: The Southern Agrarians and American Conservative Thought. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                An important work that deals with the lasting effects of the Southern Agrarian movement on contemporary conservatism. Links Agrarianism with New Criticism. Discusses poet and essayist Wendell Berry’s “ecologically orientated agrarianism” sympathetically and as more in line with the Nashville Agrarians’ views than that of “neo-Agrarians” Richard M. Weaver and M. E. Bradford.

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                                                                                                • Rubin, Louis D. “Introduction.” In I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, xi–xxxv. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                  Rubin in fact presents two introductions here—an original, generally laudatory one from 1962 (xxiii–xxxv), and a new 1977 version (xi–xxii) that critiques the first mainly for his own ignoring of Agrarian racial views. Donaldson 2006 faults both introductions.

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                                                                                                  New Criticism

                                                                                                  From the very beginning of his career at Vanderbilt, Ransom fought to promote English as a serious academic discipline within the university as the latter moved more and more in a scientific direction. Within the English department itself, he sought to establish the poet critic and essayist as at least on a par with, if not perhaps superior to, the historical scholar. The drive toward a way of teaching literature that would offer consistent and repeatable practices throughout the profession was something that concerned academics both in the United Kingdom and in the United States. The emergence of the New Criticism was the result: it argued that through close analysis the literary text could yield knowledge that, while perhaps supplementary to scientific knowledge, was not available in the sciences themselves. Ransom’s agenda dominated the profession up until the late 1960s when the subverters were themselves subverted. In “Criticism, Inc.” (see Ransom 1947 under Prose), he argues that “Criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic” (p. 329) and that one needed to ask—and answer—what a poem “is trying to represent that cannot be represented by prose” (p. 347). In “Wanted: An Ontological Critic” (see Ransom 1941 under Prose), Ransom presented his well-known formulation that a poem consists of both structure (argument) and texture (images) in complex harmony; a later iteration borrowed ego (rational argument) and id (primal image) from Freud. But Ransom himself was always more the theoretical than practical New Critic. It was his former students Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren who published Understanding Poetry (1938), the most famous anthology that applied the method. As he had with Agrarianism in 1945 (see Ransom 1971 under Prose), Ransom himself soon became skeptical about the New Criticism and its increasingly mechanical application. Beck 2001 examines the post-Fugitive legacy and its influence on the next generation of writers and critics; Graff 1987 deals with the institutional impact of the New Critics; Gallagher 2000 connects the New Critics with what came after rather than the oppositions between them; Jancovich 1993 stresses the discontinuity while acknowledging some connections; Kopec 2016 finds relevance in Ransom’s theoretical essays for the possibilities and threats of the new digital age; Mao 1996 explores connections between Ransom and Adorno (whose work he had published in the Kenyon Review); Schryer 2007 links mid-century Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons and Ransom in their social and educational agendas.

                                                                                                  • Beck, Charlotte H. The Fugitive Legacy: A Critical History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                    Discusses the influence of the Fugitives on the next generation in three areas: criticism, poetry, and fiction. Has chapters on Cleanth Brooks, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor, among others. References to Ransom passim.

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                                                                                                    • Gallagher, Catherine. “Formalism and Time.” Modern Language Quarterly 61.1 (2000): 229–251.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1215/00267929-61-1-229Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                      Sees more continuity between the New Critics and the theoretical procedures that followed than is usually acknowledged: Ransom’s “well-wrought poem is a funeral urn enclosing the ashes of the object that can no longer be perceived” (p. 246).

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                                                                                                      • Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature: An Institutional History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                        In chapter 9, presents the advent of New Criticism with especial attention to Ransom’s career at Vanderbilt (partly based on Young 1976, cited under Biography), within the trajectory of university literary practice in American institutions. Refers to the “relief” the New Critical approach gave him as a young professor not immediately having to be concerned with biography and history.

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                                                                                                        • Hickman, Miranda B., and John D. McIntyre, eds. Rereading the New Criticism. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                          These essays examine the historical origins of the New Criticism, its current applications, and its relevance for the future in literary studies of borderless inclusivity. Three essays deal with Ransom, two of which are relevant here: Aaron Shaheen (on gender: pp. 65–82—see Shaheen 2012 cited under Gender and Sexuality); James Matthew Wilson (on how Adorno, whose work was published in the Kenyon Review, influenced Ransom to abandon his Agrarianism: pp. 83–101).

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                                                                                                          • Jancovich, Mark. The Cultural Politics of the New Criticism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511519321Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                            Ransom’s seminal involvement with the New Criticism was initially seen as a welcome innovation, then as a negative dominating ideology to be replaced by a liberating Deconstruction, Reader Response theory, and so forth, only to reemerge as a valid interpretative strategy among others. A useful introduction to these themes, arguing that New Criticism “was not an example of bourgeois individualism” but “an alternative form of reading” that critiqued bourgeois society (p. 9).

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                                                                                                            • Kopec, Andrew. “The Digital Humanities, Inc.: Literary Criticism and the Fate of a Profession.” PMLA 131.2 (2016): 324–329.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1632/pmla.2016.131.2.324Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                              Shows relevance of Ransom to current discussions on the digital humanities. Affirms the ongoing importance of close reading as a professional tool. Ransom’s “opposition between history and literature, criticism and scholarship, agrarianism and industrialism, is now the opposition between literature and data” (p. 335).

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                                                                                                              • Mao, Douglas. “The New Critics and the Text-Object.” ELH 63.1 (1996): 227–254.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/elh.1996.0007Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                A reassessment of the New Critics and their ongoing importance for the study of literature. Finds connections between Ransom’s sense of the “particularity” of the text and Adorno’s and others in the Frankfurt School’s battle with modernity and science.

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                                                                                                                • Schryer, Stephen. “Fantasies of the New Class: The New Criticism, Harvard Sociology, and the Idea of the University.” PMLA 122.3 (2007): 663–678.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1632/pmla.2007.122.3.663Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                  Traces Ransom’s complex evolution from Agrarian to New Critic; sees parallel with Harvard’s Talcott Parsons’s sociological model in which academics leave the institution to “transform business and government in the academy’s image,” and Ransom’s idea that “the professional critic escapes into the academy to keep aesthetic experience alive” in a hostile society. “Parsons and Ransom imagined scholars as secular priests,” but Parsons’s “are Jesuits,” Ransom’s “cloistered monks” (p. 675).

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                                                                                                                  Kenyon Review

                                                                                                                  Ransom left Vanderbilt in 1937 at the invitation of Gordon K. Chalmers, the new president of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, who wished him to found a journal as well as teach there. As Janssen 1990 notes, quoting Ransom, it was really Chalmers’ wife, the poet Roberta Teale Swartz, who got the inspiration for the idea from her days at Oxford and acquaintance with 18th-century British publications of note. Ransom’s editorship of the Kenyon Review in 1939 placed him in an important position to encourage and control the literary and intellectual cultural world of mid-20th-century America. Or, rather, in his position he created some of that world. Janssen 1990 covers the history of the Kenyon Review very lucidly and in great detail; Hutner 1992 reviews Janssen 1990 but also brings the author’s own observations on the unusually broad reach of Ransom’s journal; Wimsatt 1954 is an evaluation of Ransom’s 1951 (The Kenyon Critics. New York: World Publishing) selection of essays from his first twelve years as editor of the Kenyon Review—instructional in terms of his tastes, breadth, and even iconoclasm.

                                                                                                                  • Hutner, Gordon. “Reviewing America: John Crowe Ransom’s Kenyon Review.” American Quarterly 44.1 (1992): 101–114.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2713182Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                    Partly a review of Janssen 1990 stressing that Ransom’s journal was “more capacious, more liberal” than we remember it, and that the New Criticism it briefly embraced was not “academicized Agrarian politics” (p. 103); nevertheless, its “record was as sorry as any other mainstream publication in apprehending the claims of minority cultures, especially blacks” (p. 108).

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                                                                                                                    • Janssen, Marian. The Kenyon Review 1939–1970: A Critical History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                      An excellent account of Ransom as editor of one of the most important literary journals of the mid-20th century. Full of useful information and references that show the breadth of the journal’s contributors and Ransom’s ongoing and vigorous engagement with them.

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                                                                                                                      • Wimsatt, W. K., Jr. “Review of the Kenyon Critics: Studies in Modern Literature from the ‘Kenyon Review’ edited by John Crowe Ransom.” Comparative Literature 6.3 (1954): 265–271.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1768477Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                        Noted New Critic Wimsatt respectfully reviews Ransom’s eclectic selection of authors and essays but is obviously dismayed by the poet’s different values: “by and large the Kenyon writers operate in a spirit of alertness toward, and even suspicion of, religious, especially Christian, claims” (p. 266). Wimsatt, too, is disappointed with Ransom’s acknowledgement that “We are all caught now at this late date in the sense of our human uncertainties” (p. 268).

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                                                                                                                        Religion and Philosophy

                                                                                                                        Although Ransom could in no way be deemed a professional philosopher, much less a theologian, he had an unusual and continuous engagement with the topic that bore some resemblance to T. S. Eliot’s, even if the two poets reached divergent conclusions. His first book in 1919 was entitled Poems about God; he went on to write the highly philosophical God without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defense of Orthodoxy eleven years later; later still, he was engaged in controversies on issues of religion and philosophy and hammered out the intellectual basis of the New Criticism; as editor of the Kenyon Review, Ransom published essays on the subject (and responded in print to some of the issues in them). Archambeau 2016 gives an overview of this sequence of intellectual engagements; Jesuit priest authoring Knoll 1976–1977 directs a baneful eye on Ransom 1930 (see under Prose) and its pronouncements about God; Handy 1963 offers more-technical comments on Ransom’s use of Kant. Janssen 1990 (cited under Kenyon Review) is a mine of information on the philosophers he published in the Kenyon Review. Jarvis 1968 brings F. H. Bradley into the mix and reminds us of Ransom’s exposure to him at Oxford. Mikkelsen 2009 draws on the influence of John Dewey on Ransom’s thought early and late; Quinlan 1989 covers nearly all of the philosophers that influenced Ransom in relation to religious and philosophical matters and the conclusions he came to.

                                                                                                                        • Archambeau, Robert. “John Crowe Ransom’s Quarrel with Himself.” Hudson Review 69.1 (2016): 53–62.

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                                                                                                                          Uses occasion of Ransom 2015 (see under Poetry) to revisit the poet’s entire oeuvre, arguing that “An aesthetics as well as a politics grew from Ransom’s theology.” Here Ransom ends up less an unbeliever than a poet who has chosen to avoid “The error of concocting a God who would let us understand him” (p. 60).

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                                                                                                                          • Handy, William J. Kant and the Southern New Critics. Austin: University of Texas University Press, 1963.

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                                                                                                                            Former student of Ransom examines the German philosopher’s influence on Ransom’s “ontological criticism” based on Kant’s distinction between symbols representing things and symbols representing ideas. The main Kantian study of Ransom. Also deals with Tate and Brooks.

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                                                                                                                            • Janssen, Marian. The Kenyon Review 1939–1970. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                              Notes that Ransom and his editorial colleague Philip Blair Rice were more than partial to philosophy and provides comments on a vast number of them, both those the Review published and those who were written about in it: Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Rudolf Carnap, Charles Morris, Jacques Maritain, Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Theodore Adorno, and John Dewey, among many more.

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                                                                                                                              • Jarvis, F. P. “F. H. Bradley’s Appearance and Reality and the Critical Theory of John Crowe Ransom.” In John Crowe Ransom: Critical Essays and a Bibliography. Edited by Thomas Daniel Young, 206–209. Southern Literary Series. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                Grounded speculation about idealist philosopher Bradley’s influence on Ransom when he was at Oxford in 1910 and afterward.

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                                                                                                                                • Knoll, Wayne A. “Ransom as Religionist.” Mississippi Quarterly 30.1 (Winter 1976–1977): 111–136.

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                                                                                                                                  A Jesuit theologian states and rather bluntly critiques Ransom’s claims in God without Thunder 1930: “Since God does not exist, and since man needs myth for practical and psychological reasons, Ransom affirms the advantage of and necessity for the Supreme Myth, that figment of the mind which corresponds to all that does exist” (p. 132).

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                                                                                                                                  • Mikkelsen, Ann. “Roger Prim, Gentlemen: Gender, Pragmatism, and the Strange Career of John Crowe Ransom.” College English 36.4 (2009): 46–74.

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                                                                                                                                    Examines Ransom’s early interest in Dewey’s egalitarian and pragmatic philosophy and how it influenced both his gendered poetry and late gendered criticism to discover a more nuanced rhetoric than some of his middle-year statements in the 1930s and 1940s would suggest. Extensive footnotes add some cautions.

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                                                                                                                                    • Quinlan, Kieran. John Crowe Ransom’s Secular Faith. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                      All stages of Ransom’s career are considered, but with a special focus on his religious evolution from believer to agnostic. Provides extensive references to and discussions of Ransom’s philosophical interests, including Kant, Dewey, Russell, Carnap, and Chicago-based writers such as Charles Morris who were connected with the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science project. Draws extensively on Ransom’s late essays.

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                                                                                                                                      Race

                                                                                                                                      A white Southerner and founding member of the Fugitive-Agrarian movement with its socially conservative agenda, Ransom was less involved with racial matters than were his two best-known associates Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren, who wrote both poetry and essays on the subject and publicly altered their positions over the decades. Ransom, in turn, broke with Donald Davidson, the most reactionary of the group. Nevertheless, race is a theme in Ransom’s writing that has invited some attention. Donaldson 2006 is severely critical of Ransom’s racial views; Jones 1930 offers an early condemnation of the Agrarian movement from a racial perspective; Ransom 1934 suggests a more nuanced, if naive, view on the author’s part.

                                                                                                                                      • Donaldson, Susan V. “Introduction.” In I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. ix–xl. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                        Generally critical but points to a more sympathetic attitude toward African American writers in the Fugitive period than that which came to prevail as they shifted into their Agrarian mode.

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                                                                                                                                        • Jones, Howard Mumford. “Is There a Southern Renaissance?” Virginia Quarterly Review 6 (1930): 184–197.

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                                                                                                                                          Accuses Ransom of being nostalgic for “the civilization of the slavery system.”

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                                                                                                                                          • Ransom, John Crowe. “Sociology and the Black Belt.” American Review 4 (1934): 147–154.

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                                                                                                                                            In this review of African American sociologist Charles S. Johnson’s Shadow of the Plantation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934) on contemporary black families in Macon County, Alabama, Ransom calls into question the merits of sociological studies but then shows himself unusually sympathetic, for the time, to the plight of black southerners, though he seems to attribute it to the forces of industrialization and recommends a return to the principles of agrarianism as the solution.

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                                                                                                                                            Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                                                                            Living at a period when white males dominated the academy, Ransom often followed a masculinist critique of female authorship, as can be seen in his early encounters with the combative Laura Riding (see also Ransom 1985, cited under Biography, p. 152) and some of his later comments on women. However, the matter is much more complex and period sensitive as Janssen 1990, Mikkelsen 2009, and Shaheen 2012 attest; Cowan 1987 presents a sympathetic older view while deflecting the newer, critical one; Donaldson 2006 and Adams 2007 pass judgment on Ransom mainly as he expressed himself in the 1930s.

                                                                                                                                            • Adams, Amanda. “‘Painfully Southern’: Gone with the Wind, the Agrarians, and the Battle for the New South.” Southern Literary Journal 40.1 (2007): 58–75.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/slj.2008.0000Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Adams criticizes Ransom’s Southern Review 2 (1936–1937): 399–418 dismissal of Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel as merely an example of women’s fiction. “Gone with the Wind’s Darwinian, racially obtuse message is certainly disconcerting for modern readers, but compared to that of the Agrarians, Mitchell’s message is progressive” (p. 74).

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                                                                                                                                              • Cowan, Louise. “Innocent Doves: Ransom’s Feminine Myths of the South.” In American Letters and Historical Consciousness: Essays in Honor of Lewis P. Simpson. Edited by J. Gerald Kennedy and Daniel Mark Fogel, 191–213. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                A complex essay in which Cowen examines the representation of women in “Vision by Sweetwater” and several other of Ransom’s poems and their revisions (on the basis that over half of the 1969 Selected Poems are about women) in an effort to give mythical sanction to an understanding that now seems well past its expiration date.

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                                                                                                                                                • Donaldson, Susan V. “Introduction.” In I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. ix–xl. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                  Draws on feminist theory and neglect of Southern women writers to critique Agrarian movement. Faults Ransom severely for his attitudes toward women in “Reconstructed but Unregenerate” as a resistance toward a liberating modernity (though several of the opposed women’s groups were by no means progressive) and also quotes a telling 1930 letter to Allen Tate: “frankly I am afraid of them” (p. xv).

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                                                                                                                                                  • Janssen, Marian. The Kenyon Review 1939–1970: A Critical History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    Useful for a list of female authors presented or reviewed in the Kenyon Review while under Ransom’s editorship. Also has brief discussion of Ransom’s first accepting, then apologetically refusing to publish Robert Duncan’s homosexual poem in 1945.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Mikkelsen, Ann. “Roger Prim, Gentlemen: Gender, Pragmatism, and the Strange Career of John Crowe Ransom.” College English 36.4 (2009): 46–74.

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                                                                                                                                                      Traces an arc in Ransom’s creative and academic engagement with gender issues, the New Critical era of the 1930s and ’40s being the most “highly gendered” period. Offers a close reading of “Vision by Sweetwater” that seems to empower the women rather than the man. Emphasizes related influence of, and comparison with, John Dewey.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Shaheen, Aaron. “Androgyny and Social Upheaval: The Gendered Pretext for John Crowe Ransom’s Critical Approach.” In Rereading the New Criticism. Edited by Miranda B. Hickman and John D. McIntyre, 65–82. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                        Like Mikkelsen 2009, Shaheen traces a development in Ransom’s gender views as he negotiated the changing decades and the troubling inconsistencies of his theoretical rhetoric. At one point, “Ransom sought a synthesis of his ‘masculine’ intellect and ‘feminine’ sentiment as the means to create a myth of an organic Southern community, ironically based on clear social distinctions between men and women” (p. 66).

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