The Charlotte News



Searching the South:

Bright Pens in Georgia

--Magazine Note, by W. J. Cash

Site ed. note: For earlier article by Cash on this magazine and background note on Cash's eventuual friendship with its editors, see "Pseudopodia"- July19, 1936.

Something over a year ago I reported in this place the appearance of an obscure little magazine in Clayton, Georgia, under the name of Pseudopodia, and said among other things that it roundly deserved to live and prosper, and that I hoped it would.

Well, it has. The name has got changed to that of the North Georgia Review--not without something of reluctance on the part of the editors, I gather from their somewhat plaintiff announcement. However, the title doesn't matter much. The thing that matters is that the little mag is prospering. That it has a picture cover now, that its size has been expanded, and its pages about doubled, and it is apparently gathering in enough money to keep growing continuously.

That's fine. What's finer still, however, is this: that its content has consistently lived up to, and even surpassed, its early promise. Looking back over its career to date, I am inclined to make the flat assertion that it is the best of the little magazines which has appeared in the South. It is a good deal less glittering than the one which Emily Clark cooked up years ago in Richmond. It has had no list of famous contributors and it has not abounded in the clever passages which made the Clark journal famous through half the world. But it is much more directly concerned with its ostensible purpose--the examination of Southern phenomena and the encouragement of unrecognized Southern talent. It has more reality in it, and in its fashion, it is even better reading than the old strained cleverness was.

The editors are two young women of Clayton, Paula Snelling and Lillian Smith. I call them young confidently, though I have never encountered them and made no inquiries. But they do not sob out loud when they breathe the name of Dixie, they do not believe that all Confederates are noble souls, probably descended in old line from the ancient kings of the earth, and that all Yankees are low-born villains; they know that the South is not immaculate, that (Allen Tate and Stark Young to the contrary notwithstanding) it has never been immaculate, that there are evidences of running sores, and they are not at all shocked by the fact that males are males and females, females. It follows naturally that they are bound to have come to growth sometime after the Great War.

But the best single piece of evidence is this: that though they are incessantly critical of the South, they do not hate it. And all of us past thirty--all of us who have prided ourselves on belonging to the "emancipated"--were busily hating it a few years ago, and perhaps hate it too much still. It was a perfectly natural reaction against the sterile sentimentality in which we were reared; perhaps it was healthy for a little while, for by continually shocking everybody to death we did perhaps aid in setting off intelligent inquiry. But at bottom, unreasoning hatred is as sterile as unreasoning love.

The advent of these gals heralds, I believe, the beginning of a much saner period than that which finds its greatest exponents in Faulkner and Caldwell. The newer generation of intelligent Southerners is viewing the South--with "bright and horrible eyes," indeed. It misses nothing of the brutal aspects quite cordially as decent men and women ought to. Nevertheless, it does not make the mistake of assuming that these brutal aspects are all, that the South is totally bad. On the contrary, it exhibits a decided fondness for many things that are Southern; it realizes that, for better or worse, all of us who were born here are forever Southerners, that by no process of taking thought can we really turn ourselves into Frenchmen or Germans or Italians or even Yankees, that our destinies are at last incurably bound up with the destinies of this land. They realize this, and what we always used to be forgetting, that everything that is here is the product of historical forces, which in some wise may be measured and understood.

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