Out of Troy

Author of several novels and a memorable autobiographical work entitled Our Father’s Fields (1998), as well as a leading light of the Abbeville Institute, James Kibler has produced in the present work an indispensable study of the classical influence on Southern literature.  Other literary historians and critics of Southern letters have explored this territory; however, to my knowledge, this is the first book-length treatment of the subject, and one long overdue.  Drawing frequently upon the expertise of precursors such as Richard Beale Davis, Lewis Simpson, M.E. Bradford, and Richard Weaver, Kibler extends and refines their analyses with critical forays into the works of frequently neglected authors.  In a nutshell, he argues that the most distinctive traits of Southern literature are rooted in the South’s “joy in the gifts of life,” its rejection of ideological abstraction, its submission to tradition and historical precedent, its broad tolerance, and its preference for a life embedded in familial and agrarian pursuits—all of which can ultimately be traced back to Greek and Roman classical culture, profoundly leavened, of course, by the Christian Faith.

In a survey of Southern colonial libraries Kibler notes that classical authors were predominant, most commonly the works of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Cicero, Seneca, Caesar, Juvenal, Aesop, and Terence.  Among these Virgil, Horace,...

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