Diversity Where It Counts

A work of genuine scholarship tells us what we did not know before and does so felicitously—it is a contribution to the world’s body of knowledge.  Discouragingly, a majority of academic books that have bounced across my desk in recent years either regurgitate what was told better long ago, or are the distorted remnants of real knowledge pounded into an ill-fitting feminist or multicultural frame.  I am made happy in the encounter with this work of genuine scholarship.

But that is not all.  Here is a scholar who is also a poet.  The combination of a first-rate scholar and a good poet is rare enough to be a delight.  The only other examples I can think of are the classicist A.E. Housman and the seminal Simms scholar James Kibler, whose works have been reviewed in Chronicles.  The catalog of my satisfactions does not end even there.  In this age of “diversity,” which means enforced conformity, here is the real thing—the culture of the American state that is not only the most “different” from all the others but the most diverse within.

A Creole was originally a Frenchman born in Louisiana or the West Indies.  John J. Audubon, for instance, born in Haiti of French parents, was a Creole.  Creoles, we learn, are culturally distinguishable from Cajuns, Frenchmen who ended up in Louisiana after being ethnically cleansed from Canada by...

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