AltHome-W.J. Cash: Quandaries of the Mind--A multimedia presentation on the author of The Mind of the South and his work



A Multimedia Examination of W.J. Cash and His Writing

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was born on May 2, 1900 in humble, mill-owned Gaffney, South Carolina; he died in a lonely, untelling room at La Reforma Hotel on Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City July 1, 1941. In the 41 years in between these dates, he wrote passionately of his native South, imploring it to face reality and the future while admonishing that failure to do so would inexorably lead to violent enforcement of reality. He died not knowing that his alternative fatal vision of the future world would come to pass in bloody fusion with occurrence during the 1950's and 60's--from small, indistinct Southern hamlets and milltowns like Hattiesburg, to Birmingham, Oxford, Little Rock, Dallas, and then to the boroughs of Manhattan, to Detroit, Watts, Philadelphia, and eventually to almost every major American city throughout the land, culminating in Memphis and the tragic days which followed. Too much of the South would refuse to look analytically into the mirror of time and see itself realistically, but honorably, as plain people full of noble but simple traits, yet needful of self-examination to purge itself of its prepossessing demons--as Cash urged so fervently from his bully pulpit on the printed page, given him first by H.L. Mencken in 1929 and then by the Knopf Publishing Company and J. E. Dowd of The Charlotte News in the years which followed. Instead, the system of violence, of Jim Crow segregation, of cotton and tobacco profits, of "Cloud-Cuckoo-Land" small-town mentality stuck in "proto-Dorian" convention--the preservation in the minds of too many poor and middle class whites of a Never-never Land image of handsome squires escorting ladies in farthingales to the palatial ball at the manor house, ignoring the while the surrounding dusty non-culture of caste-locked sharecroppers and millbillies finding pride in one indefatigable fatigued ideal, race--of intransigence in the face of a changing world, exemplified by Cash's peasant prototypical "Man-at-the Center"--all of this, this "savage ideal", would persist to the bitter end, until the "second civil war" and the aid of the federal courts in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's would finally force a recognition, at least in most, of the very things Cash had commended to his fellow Southerners in 1941 and earlier.

Though he intended to publish more, "Sleepy" "Jack" Cash left behind but the one book, The Mind of the South, published February 10, 1941. But it is this singularly unique book in the annals of Southern analytical literature which has astonished, puzzled, bemused, intrigued, and ultimately inspired both serious scholars and casual students of the South alike for nearly six decades. Hailed immediately as a chef d'ouevre by such diverse sources as The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, the N.A.A.C.P., the North Carolina Mayflower Literary Society, and the Guggenheim Foundation, the 430 page book, still in print, needs no independent analysis or praise here: The ample criticism, both harsh and laudatory, wrong-headed and straight-strong, perplexed and clear, has been catalogued in numerous articles and reviews dating from its publication to the present and in two biographies on Cash, a thorough compendium of which are cited herein. In 1941, the book reviewer for Time Magazine said: "Anything written about the South henceforth must start where he leaves off." Pick up virtually any serious book written on Southern culture since 1941 and bear witness to the prescience of this reviewer.

Cash's other primary writings, his eight articles for Mencken's American Mercury, published between 1929 and 1935, and his editorials for The Charlotte News, primarily published between 1936 and 1941, are included here in full*, the first time all of these periodical writings have ever been assembled for re-publication. (*Editor's Note: Because of the time required to assemble, copy, and manually type (as the microfilm copies will not scan) the remaining large number of Cash contributions to the News, (something over 3000 in all, including unascribed editorials), scattered over six years of newspapers only available through the Charlotte Public Library, this part of the site is not yet complete and will be periodically updated until all of the Cash articles are online. For ease of usage, however, new articles when added will bear an entry date and asterisk. As of August, 2001, there are 860 articles online with more to come through 2001.) All of the early editorials taking the measure of provincial religious intolerance from Cash's short stint in fall, 1928 as managing editor of the The Cleveland Press in Shelby are here as well.

Additional features of this site are both the full text and audio of Cash's commencement address delivered at the University of Texas just 29 days before his death, all of Cash's college poetry and crative writing, an article by Cash's widow, Mary Maury, recounting the last hours of Cash's tortured end, first published in 1967 in the The Red Clay Reader,  numerous pictures and documents in the picture gallery, including a panoramic "walk-in" gallery section, and a compendium of never before published additional facts and circumstances surrounding Cash's untimely death in 1941 with an explanation for his death never before put forth.

Though not yet available, excerpts from some of the articles and from the two biographies on Cash, W.J. Cash: Southern Prophet, by Joseph L. Morrison, Knopf, 1967, and W.J. Cash: A Life, by Bruce Clayton, L.S.U. Press, 1991, should at some point in the future be included here in readable text format. And, of course, excerpts from The Mind of the South should sometime be reprinted here as well.

Special thanks are due the scholars and journalists who participated in two seminars in 1991, one held at Cash's alma mater, Wake Forest University, and the other, fittingly, at the University of Mississippi. Their presentations and collected essays, appearing in W.J. Cash and the Minds of the South, (Wake Forest participants), edited by Paul D. Escott, L.S.U. Press, 1992, and The Mind of the South Fifty Years Later, (U. of. Miss. participants), edited by Charles W. Eagles, Univ. of Mississippi Press, 1992, helped to inspire the presentation of this site dedicated to the life and writings of W.J. Cash. For an exceptional quick overview analysis of Cash and his book's impact on the South, see the writing of John Shelton Reed and others in The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Co-edited by Charles Reagan Wilson & William Ferris, University of North Carolina Press, 1989. Professor Reed's numerous other insightful articles on Cash, spread across nearly three decades and several publications, have also served greatly to inspire this site and are highly recommended. We also recommend The South, by B.C. Hall & C.T. Wood, Scribner, 1995, for a look at both Southern history and contemporary Southern life, written in a breezy style from the point-of-view of the proverbial "everyman" and acknowledging at length Cash's contribution as a seminal force in this effort.

This site is designed to be of use both to professional scholars interested in primary research on Cash and his writing and to the casual student interested in W.J. Cash, The Mind of the South, or just the South generally. (And if you happen to be one of the poor unfortunate undergraduates assigned to labor away at The Mind, take heart: While this site will not guarantee you an A or act as an online Cliff's Notes on Cash, it may give you some insight which your fellow students might not yet glean. And don't worry, an erratic student himself, Cash would have been sympathetic to your plight. Take it from those who trod around the dangerously sharp learning curve before you; in years to come, you will likely come to appreciate the richness of the book more than perhaps you do at present.)

This site is free; the only donation we ask is that if you find the site educational, interesting, or even a little inspiring, please let us know. Contributions of information on Cash, writings on or by Cash not herein included, as well as critiques of Cash or this site, are most welcome and encouraged. Also, if you can conjure a way to make the site more user-friendly or if you spot any glitches which need remedying, do not be reticent about telling us. E-mail your contributions, comments and suggestions to or post questions or comments and exchange ideas at The Cash Lodge. Remember to bookmark this site for easy return and reference. If you thoroughly explore the site on your initial visit, please check back in a few months as additional material, especially Cash's substantial writing for the News, will be added periodically.

Bear in mind that this site contains material under copyright. In all cases where practicable we have obtained the permission of the copyright holder and/or the author for reproduction of the materials maintained here. Please follow suit and obtain proper permission prior to any use or reproduction of the documents and graphic images contained herein except where the  intended use is strictly personal, scholarly, and non-commercial. It takes a lot of thought, research, and time to write a scholarly article or book; even the presentation of ideas, not just quoted material, original to an author, deserve credit by footnotes or textual mention. Please act accordingly for the benefit of all who want to know from whence your ideas originated.

Thank you for visiting. We hope your time here will be splendid and inspiring and that you will take with you at least a nugget or two of lasting value.

The Site Publisher - November 22, 1998


Click links below to access sections of site:

(Or use drop-down menu if you are already familiar with the contents)

  • Audio Presentation of University of Texas Commencement Address by W. J. Cash, June 2, 1941, listenable online, plus full text of speech and information about speech. This is the only recording ever made of the voice of W.J. Cash, made just 29 days before his death. The speech is divided into two parts, lasting a total of 27:23. The sound quality is exceptionally good, especially considering that these recordings were originally contained on 1941 vintage 78 r.p.m. phonograph records, now digitally transcribed to filter out most surface noise.

Either Yamaha SoundVQ« Player or RealAudio G2« is needed to hear speech. (If you already have one or both, go to links below. It is recommended that you click the "PRE-LOAD" link first so that the speech will start automatically from a second window allowing you to course through this site or to other sites in your main browser window during the download. Using Yamaha, when the speech starts, you may simply close the second window (stopping the audio) and then re-access the audio immediately from audio Link I or II, within the main window. In RealPlayer, the player itself appears at the end of the download; then click audio Link III to join the text page associated with the speech.) Download free Yamaha player from; select correct version for your computer, Mac or PC. Player operates on PowerMac running System 7.5.1 or PC Pentium 66 mhz or higher running Windows 95 or Windows 98 with at least 16mb RAM.The Player file is 1.5 mb. You only need to download the Player; not the Encoder, available at the same site. The Encoder is for recording only.

Download free RealAudio G2 player from

CAVEAT for Yamaha users: After loading your player onto your computer, and clicking one of the below links, the part of the speech accessed will begin automatically when the linked site loads and the audio downloads to your computer (about 3 to 6 minutes). To stop the audio and first read the text at the site, scroll down 3 to 4 frames to the "Player Control" box and click on the small square black dot on the right side of the player until a green core lights. Scrolling will be significantly slowed on computers of 166mhz and below by the streaming audio while it is downloading and playing. It is recommended, however, that on such slower computers, the Yamaha player be used, as the crowded RealAudio network will likely cause excessive time-outs.

RealAudio G2 users simply click the link below and then the "Player Link" on the Audio page; the RealAudio player will then begin almost immediately streaming the audio. The advantage to RealAudio over the Yamaha player is that the RealAudio will begin almost immediately without waiting for a prior download. The Yamaha player, however, renders somewhat better and more even sound quality throughout the speech as it first loads the speech to your computer in a temporary file. (The Yamaha audio is divided into two parts to avoid excessive waiting times for the downloading of the audio.)

If you do not have a computer capable of running either player, you will nevertheless be able to read the speech and accompanying materials at the links below:

Note: Should the high contrast background adversely affect your reading, users of level IE 4.x browsers and above may take advantage of the magic of alchemy to transform Mercury into various other materials via the switches at the top of each article. To eliminate the background with earlier version browsers or Netscape, you may simply start by clicking the Mercury cover icon below and follow the links or the drop-down menu links at the bottom of each Mercury article in series; you may also (assuming they are visible in your browser) hit the flashing numb-pun in the row at the top of each article, the one corresponding to the article which you have loaded.

Click links below to access titled article:

[click here to go to "Jehovah of the Tar Heels" and Mercury Years Introduction]

    1.  Jehovah of the Tar Heels, July, 1929 (includes introduction to Mercury writing)
         Jehovah of the Tar Heels (sans background image, if your eyesight is fading)
    2.  The Mind of the South, October, 1929
    3.  The War in the South, February, 1930
    4.  Paladin of the Drys, October, 1931
    5.  Close View of Calvinist Lhasa, April, 1933
    6.  Buck Duke's University, September, 1933
    7.  Holy Men Muff A Chance, January, 1934
    8.  Genesis of the Southern Cracker, May, 1935

[click to go to Charlotte News Articles Links Page--Framed Edition]

  • The Charlotte News articles by W. J. Cash, including unascribed editorials by Cash, 1928 and 1935-1941:  As of February, 2002, now including Cash's two-month editorship of the small Cleveland Press in Shelby, there are 860 articles, book reviews, and editorials on subjects including international politics, the war in Europe and the Pacific, national politics and economics, race,  lynching, and the state of Southern literature and art in general. Taken together, these articles provide the reader a fair thumbprint of the times of the latter Thirties and early Forties, both at home and abroad. Individual articles are listed both chronologically and according to subject with links to each article.  (More unascribed editorials will be online monthly through 2002.)

Charlotte News Links-Page by Date

Charlotte News Links-Page by Subjects

Charlotte News Drop-Down Menus

Charlotte News --Framed Edition

Hit the links above for a full listing of the article links chronologically or by subject, with a one line synopsis accompanying each title. (Recommended if your eyesight is strained by smaller print or if this is your first visit to the site.) For those happy few already sufficiently familiar with Cash's Charlotte News writing to operate by titles only, together with a shorter subject synopsis than found on the links-page, the drop-down menus are also available for quicker access to individual articles. A third option for accessing the articles is via side-by-side frames, links on one side and articles linked on the other, providing an original newspaper column-width format. This method is somewhat faster than the links-page as it does not require going back and forth from the articles to the links. Access frames by either the News header or the link above.

From The Wake Forest Student - 1921-1923

  • The Poetry of W. J. Cash, 1921-23; seven short poems, the only published Cash poetry

  • The Short Story Fiction of W. J. Cash, 1921-22; "The Curse", "The House of Hate" (both coming soon), "The Derelict" - Three stories of the supernatural plainly influenced by Poe, and the latter with a Conrad patina, offer the reader the only available excursion into the early and never-finished fiction career of Cash.

Originally published in 1967, Vol. 4, including original graphics and images

  • Biography, excerpts from: W.J. Cash: Southern Prophet, by Joseph L. Morrison, Knopf, 1967 and W.J. Cash: A Life, by Bruce Clayton, L.S.U. Press, 1991. Select excerpts from menu: (Coming soon)

  • Seminar essay compendia, excerpts from: W.J. Cash and the Minds of the South, ed. by Paul D. Escott, L.S.U. Press, 1992, and The Mind of the South Fifty Years Later, ed. by Charles W. Eagles, Univ. of Miss. Press, 1992. Select excerpt from menu: (Coming soon)

  • Gallery of Pictures and Memorabilia (Pre-Load link): Containing graphics, pictures, and images of Cash, his family, and artifacts of Cash's life and writing, some never before published. Travel from here to main gallery entrance at which you may choose from four areas to visit, "Early Years", "Writing Years", "1941", and "The Panoramic Gallery". The latter area, added July, 1999, affords the viewer a quick browse through a "three-dimensional" gallery environment with less included biographical information than at the main gallery. (A VRML viewer, such as a free download of Cosmo Player available at supplied link on the page, is required to see the panoramic environment.) For instant access to all pictures, first hit the pre-load link above or on the top navigation bar and follow the instructions. The icons below and on all subsequent pages afford direct access to the galleries without pre-loading, slower if you have not previously pre-loaded or if you have been here before but since cleared your cache of Cash. (In either case, see "Preview To Understanding".)

[click to go to Main Picture Gallery Entrance] [click to go to Panoramic Gallery Entrance]

  • Bibliography and compendium of books and articles about W.J. Cash and a suggested reading list of books Cash read and admired, including a list of all books and treatises referenced in The Mind of the South (Coming soon)

E-mail your contributions, comments and suggestions to .

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The Translator--El Traductor, Traducteur, ▄bersetzer, il Tradutorre, Tradutor

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