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I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (Anniversary)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  257 ratings  ·  34 reviews
First published in 1930, the essays in this manifesto constitute one of the outstanding cultural documents in the history of the South. In it, twelve southerners-Donald Davidson, John Gould Fletcher, Henry Blue Kline, Lyle H. Lanier, Stark Young, Allen Tate, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Herman Clarence Nixon, Frank Lawrence Owsley, John Crowe Ransom, John Donald Wade, and Robert P ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Louisiana State University Press (first published 1930)
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Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Savanna by: Read it for Don Snow's Regional Lit
If you want to understand the difference between the South and the North, this is the book to read. I particularly recommend Allen Tate's essay, "Remarks on the Southern Religion." There are lots of outdated, misogynistic, racist, and otherwise reprehensible opinions expressed in the various essays, but there is also an immense beauty to the writing and to the agrarians love for their region. It is both a proud plea for a dying culture and an elegy, a testament to what has been lost. ...more
Jeff Crompton
Aug 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I made it to page 77....

I'm a Southerner, and I wanted to see what some of the South's best thinkers as of 1930 had to say. I knew that this book would be dated, but it's apparently still highly regarded in some circles. For the record, I managed to read Louis Rubin's 1962 introduction, the collective "Statement of Principles," John Crowe Ransom's "Reconstructed But Unregenerate," Donald Davidson's "A Mirror for Artists," and half of Frank Lawrence Owsley's "The Irrepressible Conflict" bef
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Who isn’t disillusioned with the idea of “Progress” in the 21st century? It’s obvious—the use of the planets resources for the endless manufacturing of useless material stuff, the consumerist mentality, the mounting environmental disasters—business as usual will be sending humanity, collectively, headlong into the brick wall of self-annihilation. Today, this is abundantly clear to those of us capable of seeing the macrocosmic perspective...We can look at the violent effects of rampant industrial ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
"I'll Take My Stand" consists of several fascinating, if also repetitious, essays defending the agrarian culture of the South against the nature and imposition of Northern industrialism. The rural romantic in me is attracted to some of the arguments here, particularly the critiques of industrial societies. Some passages are nearly prophetic. Take this passage from Henry Blue Kline: "Motor-cars, talking pictures, the radio, labor-saving devices, possessed amazingly great potentialities for the ex ...more
"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called The Old South...Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow...Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their ladies fair, of Master and of Slave.Look for it only in books for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind."

For most the Roaring Twenties were a celebration of the triumph of progress. The Great War in Europe was over, and its conclusion saw many of the old empires and forces of cons
Eleanor Lubell
This is a very beautiful and complicated book.
College reads: I only read chapters/sections relevant to my studies, hence the dnf
Sierra Abrams
Ok. Wow. I was sosososo hoping to like this book. I knew I'd like the topic (Agrarian South), but would I enjoy a bunch of 30-paged essays written by authors I'd never heard of before (give or take a few). I tried to like it. And it wasn't even the fact that they were essays that made me not like this book; that part I totally enjoyed. It was the writing. It was sometimes hard (and that's coming from someone who thinks Doestoevsky is easy), sometimes cumbersome, and sometimes boring. A lot of th ...more
Jacob Jordan
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I learned about this book from reading George Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. I'll Take My Stand is actually a collection of essays written by various Southern belletrists. From the perspective of one who wants to understand conservatism, I'll Take My Stand illuminates a strand of American conservatism that often goes unnoticed. Although conservatism is typically thought of as being laissez-faire and pro-corporation, I'll Take My Stand reveals an anti-corpora ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good book in light of issues facing the nation today, and a good way of learning what Southerners were worried about in the 1920's. Some of the essays are pretty dense, and you can sense that while they want to retain the simpler mode of life, they knew it was fast slipping away. It left me with a distinct nostalgia because the South has changed significantly just since I was a kid. We've lost most of our distinctiveness. ...more
Prince Cad Ali Cad
As Stark Young intimated in the final essay, the thrust of ITMS is the exposition of the true nature of the South. Looking around and seeing the land they loved rapidly disappearing amid the furor of modern ideals, the Twelve Southerners banded together to knit a defence of their home, a defence having more of a mystical than quantitative quality about it.

In their forwarding a defence of the South, they will likely please few modern people. The style, as some reviewers have here claimed, is too
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who are unsatisfied with modern society
Though I would not give all twelve essays in the book five stars, each essay made its own contribution to the overall tone of the book, and some were so outstanding that I cannot fault it. The current rise in popularity of the New Agrarians vindicates the cause for which these essayists pled. Agrarianism is opposed to everything we hate about Industrialism--the destruction of community, the breakup of family, exploitation of nature as well as people, meaningless consumerism, and so forth. It is ...more
The promotion of industrialization overturned the lives of all southerners, negatively and positively. Nothing remained unaffected in the South after the Civil War. In a way, the emergence of the industrial movement from the North forced all Southerners, all races and ethnicity together against this progressive northern movement. Twelve authors banned together to express their views of the forthcoming industrial change with fervor by writing well-defined, detailed arguments against modern expans ...more
Jacques Defraigne
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
The great value of this books is that it defends the great southern tradition of the traditional life against the intrusion of the modern industrial state. It achieves this by tackling the same major problem from different perspectives. Yes some essays are dated, but there are truly some beautiful essays present in the book that have stood the test of time: a mirror for the artist, education:past and present, the philosophy of progress, remarks on southern religion, the hind tit and the life and ...more
Gregory M. Knapp
I found this a very challenging and dry book, based on how some authors presented their topics. It began with the "New Introduction by Susan V. Donaldson." She clearly have a very high impression of herself and her opinions. Her writing was impossible to follow, added nothing to the book and was a turn off before getting to Chapter 1. The book is a collection of 12 authors and poets, each with a chapter and a subject. Even though I'm deep into studying the time before, during and after the civil ...more
Trey Smith
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of essays in defense of Southern agrarian culture in the midst of industrialism. The Life and Death of Cousin Lucius by John Donald Wade is my favorite of the collection as it follows the life of a man who was a teenager ar the end of the Civil War up through the 1920s and the changes which took place in the South and one MSN’s Stoic reaction to it. Although at times dated, well worth the read for any who appreciate agrarian society.
Matthew Dambro
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing collection of essays written by Southern poets, historians and novelists. It was published in 1930, just as the great depression was taking hold of the United States by the throat. It was a plea to maintain the southern agrarian tradition in the face of the industrialism of the North. This slim book of thoughts remind us of much that was fine and gentle that was lost.
Garrett Peace
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Worth reading for its historical importance in Southern Lit. but not for any other reason I can think of.
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Didn't finish because it got really repetitive. ...more
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As good as it gets.

Well, almost. The challenge in this book is quite telling in its analysis of the symptoms, but less so in treating of foundations. The Twelve Southerners failed in thinking the South could maintain a pre-modern tradition without a living connection to the traditions of Christendom that formed its foundation. And, as these traditions were being removed the world over, the Agrarians, following the evidence, might have reached the conclusion that this stage of the Church was comi
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
If nothing else, this collection of essays memorializes the loss of a way of life, one that has now been lost so completely that some definitive boundary, a point of no return, must have been passed not long after it was written. The South as it exists today has as much to do with the South they knew and loved as the chav humming the bassline to the latest hiphop ballad has to do with the peasant ploughman singing folk chanties overheard by Wordsworth or Ralph Vaughan Williams. A South where Ver ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Can't agree more with the lost cause of the Southern Agrarians.

The faded Jeffersonian splendor that vanished with the industrial blight of corporate Yankee robber baron capitalism is here given the fair treatment by the leading lights of the Southern intellectual remnant.

Years later who can doubt that the prophecy of agrarians rings true now more than ever.

Not many realize in the noise of god-less euphoria created by mass-consumption that the America of antebellum history is the recognized he
Jason Carter
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Written by the Twelve "Fugitives" from Vanderbilt, this books is a timeless look at the benefits of the Southern agrarian life over and against the crass industrialism of the North.

When it was written, it appeared inevitable to the authors that industrialization was coming to their beloved South; they wrote these essays to warn against uncritical acceptance of that fate. Now, some 3/4 of a century later, their prophecy has proven correct but their warnings went by and large unheeded. Except for
EJ Daniels
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A defense of Agrarianism and what was valuable in the Old South masterfully rendered by a collection of authors from various backgrounds, I'll Take My Stand posits some of the most pressing issues confronting modern man, and illustrates how those issues might be confronted by a reevaluation of progress and a re-enforcement of tradition.

Of greatest interest is the number of issues brought up by the authors that still vex us to this day; work and leisure balance, the collapse of American industry
Feb 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Extremely interesting views of the mythical South. Sometimes I felt like Stephen Colbert was writing the text and other times I felt like it was quoting The Matrix (kill the machines!). It also reminded me of The Omnivore's Dilemma with its ideas of abusing the land and getting back to simpler, non-industrial times. They were very passionate about this beautiful ideal, but they never seemed to be able to provide the concrete facts to back it up. ...more
Alden Bass
Jun 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southerners
an excellent book, and still relevant after 75 years. the authers speak about "progress", industrialization, and the relationship between human society and nature, particularly as it relates to the artists. there are some racial issues which much be taken into account, but still an excellent manifesto ...more
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The agrarian lifestyle of Jefferson and the South was in contradiction to the North's money grubbing fast-moving industrial lifestyle. These authors saw the writing on the wall. We still are suffering the demise of living on and working the land. ...more
Mar 03, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a collection of incredibly well written essays whose subjects are contrary to modern social ideas, but telling of the time and culture in which they were written. They are definitely a way to get to know the post-reconstruction, yet not fully changed, South.
Oliver Bateman
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you grew up in the deep, dreamy south, this glorious collection of essays--once considered an important cultural statement--is bucolic nostalgia nonpareil.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an all-time favorite of mine. I try to read it every year.
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