The Circus in the Attic and Other Stories, by Robert Penn Warren
If, as one critic of his poetry would have it, “Warren’s big distinctions, terms, and point of view . . . are out of Judaism,” then surely his stories are, at least in part, a lament for the loss of a promised land. Back in 1930, Warren, along with a number of other Southern writers, took his stand for the tangible farming community as against the machine-city juggernaut. “The theory of agrarianism,” they wrote, “is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations.” They adopted as their model the ante-bellum South which, despite the stigma of Negro slavery (perhaps, for some, because of it), had developed a code of morals and manners rooted in tradition and an integrated way of life. Like T. S. Eliot, they saw the modern metropolis as an infection which had reached out even to the countryside, and whose influence was everywhere causing the sources of dignity and faith to dry up.
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