A Lillian Smith Reader

Title Details

Pages: 344

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4999-2

List Price: $29.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4998-5

List Price: $84.95

eBook

Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4997-8

List Price: $29.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Piedmont College

A Lillian Smith Reader

A body of work from one of the South's most influential writers

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  • Description
  • Reviews

As a writer and forward-thinking social critic, Lillian Smith (1897-1966) was an astute chronicler of the twentieth-century American South and an early proponent of the civil rights movement. From her home on Old Screamer Mountain overlooking Clayton, Georgia, Smith wrote and spoke openly against racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws long before the civil rights era.

Bringing together short stories, lectures, essays, op-ed pieces, interviews, and excerpts from her longer fiction and nonfiction, A Lillian Smith Reader offers the first comprehensive collection of her work and a compelling introduction to one of the South's most important writers.

A conservatory-trained music teacher who left the profession to assume charge of her family's girls' camp in Rabun County, Georgia, Smith began her literary careerwriting for a journal that she coedited with her lifelong companion, Paula Snelling, successively titled Pseudopodia (1936), the North Georgia Review (1937-41), and South Today (1942-45). Known today for her controversial, best-selling novel, Strange Fruit (1944); her collection of autobiographical essays, Killers of the Dream (1949); and her lyrical documentary, Now Is the Time (1955), Smith was acclaimed and derided in equal measures as a southern white liberal who critiqued her culture's economic, political, and religious institutions as dehumanizing for all: white and black, male and female, rich and poor. She was also a frequent and eloquent contributor to periodicals such as the Saturday Review, LIFE, the New Republic, the Nation, and the New York Times.

The influence of Smith's oeuvre extends far beyond these publications. Her legacy rests on her sense of social justice, her articulation of racial and social inequities, and her challenges to the status quo. In their totality, her works propose a vision of justice and human understanding that we have yet to achieve.

The American people now confront a variety of difficult problems, many of which were thought to have been 'solved' decades ago: discrimination based on race, sexual identity, and economic or social status; seemingly unending, escalating wars and 'rumors of war'; and episodes of unspeakable human brutality not only in the United States but throughout the world. Lillian Smith thought and wrote, often eloquently, about such problems. As this book demonstrates, much of what she had to say, beginning as early as the 1930s, is relevant to our contemporary problems. It also shows, however, that she was not just 'a Southerner confronting the South' but, equally, an American speaking to all of the American people about their past, present, and, no doubt, future problems.

—Anne C. Loveland, author of Lillian Smith: A Southerner Confronting the South

A Lillian Smith Reader offers the first comprehensive compilation of Smith's large and diverse body of writing, including excerpts from her fiction along with selections that cover the full range of her gifts as a creative writer of nonfiction and social commentary. Smith is a unique figure in modern southern history, and since the late 1970s she has become a major point of reference in discussions of southern culture and its complex evolution during the twentieth century. This is a needed resource.

—Will Brantley, editor of the fiftieth-anniversary edition of Lillian Smith’s Now Is the Time

Gladney and Hodgens have here lovingly edited and selected works long out of print, including fiction, autobiographical essays, reviews, and criticism, with the intention of reminding readers of the importance of Smith's commentary. The resulting anthology offers insight into the namesake of the Lillian Smith Book Award. This book will interest readers of Southern literature and those who are curious about issues of social justice.

—Pam Kingsbury, Library Journal

If you haven't read Lillian Smith this is a wonderful introduction, if you have I'm sure you'll find something new . . . I think this book would be a good addition to anyone's bookshelf (or ebookshelf).

—Rose Pettit, Insight into Books

About the Author/Editor

Lillian Smith (Author)
LILLIAN SMITH (1897-1966) was a writer, teacher, lecturer, and civil rights activist. Born in Florida, Smith spent much of her life in Georgia. She is the author of seven books, including Killers of the Dream, Strange Fruit, and One Hour, and was also the founding editor of the magazine South Today.

Margaret Rose Gladney (Editor)
MARGARET ROSE GLADNEY is professor emerita of American Studies at the University of Alabama.

Lisa Hodgens (Editor)
LISA HODGENS is a professor of English at Piedmont College.