By Anthony Wilson
In Shadow and guard: The Swamp in Southern tradition, Anthony Wilson examines the connection among the ecological background of the Southern swamp and the evolution of Southern tradition from the colonial period to the current. To early ecu colonists and to the plantation elite, the swamp was once a spot associated with sin and impurity, and a pragmatic difficulty to agricultural improvement. for plenty of of these excluded from the white southern aristocracy—African americans, local american citizens, Acadians, and negative, rural whites—the swamp intended whatever very assorted, offering guard and sustenance, and providing separation and security from the dominant plantation tradition. This ebook explores the interaction of contradictory yet both triumphing metaphors: first, the trope of the swamp because the underside of the parable of pastoral Eden that outlined the antebellum South; and moment, the newer figuration of the swamp because the final natural vestige of un-dominated yet ever-threatened southern eco-culture. because the South involves glance an increasing number of just like the remainder of the USA, colonized through the relentless growth of strip department stores and suburban sprawl, southern wooded wetlands have come to include the final a part of the South that may constantly be past cultural dominion. Shadow and defend charts this modification as mirrored in literary works as diversified as William Byrd II’s heritage of the Dividing Line and Linda Hogan’s energy, in addition to in motion pictures, laws, own memoirs, and the vacationer undefined. studying the southern swamp from a viewpoint trained through ecocriticism, literary reports, and ecological background, Shadow and safeguard considers the numerous representations of the swamp and its evolving position in an more and more multicultural South.
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Additional info for Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture
16 THE SWAMP AND ANTEBELLUM SOUTHERN IDENTIT Y . . ‘I will kill you,’ he again screamed, his fangs clashing and the foam flying from his mouth, his long arms extended as if to clutch me and the fingers quivering nervously. I took a hasty glance of my condition. I was lost in the midst of the swamp, an unknown watery expanse surrounding me, remote from any possible assistance. The swamps were rapidly filling with water, and if we did not get out tomorrow or the next day we would in all probability be starved or drowned.
Thus, the swamps provided slaves with both temporary and permanent refuge and often disrupted the commercial relations that defined the slave as exchangeable commodity. Aside from the specter of the escaped slave, swamp dwellers of various kinds emerge repeatedly as ideological and practical threats. One of the most threatening aspects of the swamp, paradoxically, is its very bounty—the effortless 13 THE SWAMP AND ANTEBELLUM SOUTHERN IDENTIT Y “living off the land” that enchanted William Bartram as he observed the habits of swamp-dwelling Native Americans and that disgusted Byrd as he observed the same “savages” and derided the leisurely white “lubbers” for their lack of industry.
By the end of her stay, Kemble has clearly compartmentalized her appreciation and pity in favor of making full rhetorical use of the swamps. A letter to the editor of the London Times, written after her return to England, makes pointed use of the swamp landscape to depict the Southern people. They are “a nation, for as such they should be spoken of, of men whose organization and temperament is that of the Southern European; living under the influence of a climate at once enervating and exciting; scattered over trackless wildernesses of arid sand and pestilential swamp; intrenched within their own boundaries; surrounded by creatures absolutely subject to their despotic will; delivered over by hard necessity to the lowest excitements of drinking, gambling, and debauchery for sole recreation; independent of all opinion; ignorant of all progress; isolated from all society—it is impossible to conceive a more savage existence within the pale of any modern civilization” (302).