Dancing Man

A few months past there came to visit us for a weekend, at our house in the backwoods, Mr. Andrew Lytle, man of letters, aged 87 years. Although there are not many big houses farther north than ours, and although Mr. Lytle is very much a man of the South, he felt at home here. For, as he writes in his essay "The Backwoods Progression" (first published in 1933), the American backwoods "is the one feature, along with pioneering, that is common to the different sections of this no longer commonly-minded country."

Mr. Lytle, despite having seen the defeat of the South and the secularizing of what once was Christendom, remains wonderfully cheerful. In his youth, as he says, he was "a dancing man," and an actor. He dances in conversation still. Novelist, essayist, critic, and for years editor of The Sewanee Review, that best of literary quarterlies, Andrew Lytle is the last living member of that circle of social and literary men called the Southern Agrarians. (This well-edited collection includes his piece "They Took Their Stand: The Agrarian View After Fifty Years," first published in 1980.) His father's plantation of Cornsilk, twelve hundred acres "which the T.V.A. stole and covered up with water," is long sunk out of sight; but the wit and wisdom of Lytle will not be easily drowned. New York's reviewers notwithstanding.

"The appearance of From Eden...

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