Cultural Revolutions

Andrew Lytle, R.I.P.

Andrew Lytle died on his couch at his log cabin home on December 12, 1995. Such a passing was and will be known as it can only be known by family and friends who shared with him a wealth of love. The intimacies of privacy were qualified as they must be by the ritual of funeral rites and burial, and by the announcement to the world that a man of note was gone into history—and mystery. But for the public there was and is still much to be remarked.

Andrew Nelson Lytle died in Monteagle, Tennessee, two weeks short of his 93rd birthday. He left much behind him—in his influence and in his books, a tremendous presence. But now too we must sense the force of his absence. No longer will he stand before his blazing hearth as the very image of the generous host—the most festive, the most supercharged of ritualists. The fire that he loved to stoke was an image of his internal energy and spirited personality, of his love of life and zest for conviviality.

Mr. Lytle consumed his days with gusto and ignited them with laughter. Anyone who had ever been privileged to be warmed by that fire or to be lifted by the bourbon he dispensed from silver cups must have sensed that to be in that hall before that hearth, in the presence of that complex glow, was simply the best place in the world to be. Mr. Lytle's generosity was not, I think, a mere social amenity, however gracious, but was rather a statement, even a metaphysical...

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