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Polemics & Exchanges

Community Revisited

Congratulations to Ray Olson for his review of Kings Row (“Kings Row Revisited,” Vital Signs, June), book and film, and his insight into how the movie slights the book’s theme of community.  There is a big subject here.  Community has been central to Southern literature.  The community—Yoknapatawpha—is the true central character of Faulkner’s fiction, as Port William is of Wendell Berry’s.  These works reflect belonging, allegiance, and service to one’s locality, something unknown to the modern alienated artist and intellectual.  Many other examples could be cited.  Does Mr. Olson know James Gould Cozzens, for my money the best American novelist of the 20th century who was not a Southerner?  His By Love Possessed (1957) is about a man’s sacrificial love for his community, and the film (1961), while changing some elements of the novel, manages to preserve that theme.  Cozzens’ other great novel, Guard of Honor, though set in the ersatz community of a World War II military base, reflects some of the same elements.

—Clyde Wilson

Columbia, SC

Mr. Olson Replies:

Dr. Wilson reassures me that I did not write in vain. ...

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