Life, Literature, and Lincoln: A Tom Landess Reader (Paperback)
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"For anyone who views Mel Bradford's literary criticism as mere prelude to the more important work of political and social commentary, let me offer a cautionary word. Literary works always outlast political regimes, probably because every social order contains within it the genetic code that mandates old age and death, while the greatest literature always celebrates what is perennially and immitigably true." Tom Landess's words concerning his dear friend's legacy apply equally well to his own work. The title of the volume you hold in your hands-Life, Literature, and Lincoln-represents not an ascending scale of value, but a descending one. As groundbreaking as such essays as "Abraham Lincoln and the Rhetoric of Love" and "With Malice Toward Many" may be, Tom Landess will be remembered more for the beauty of his language, the clarity of his thought, and the persistence of memory in pieces like "It's Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girls," "Punk Rock, Prufrock, and the Words We Live By," and "Outgrowing the Past." The final selection in this volume, "Her Name Was Lady: A Story" provides a taste of Landess's historical imagination, which will be fully manifest in a companion volume of his short fiction. Selected and edited by Clyde N. Wilson and Mary Beth Landess, the essays in Life, Literature, and Lincoln provide a measure of one of the last great conservative scholars-a Southern Christian gentleman, husband, and father whose kind, today, is passing from this earth.