“…Georgia writers in the short story have produced an unusual number of original voices in an outspoken, independent tradition which somehow, against the odds, continues to kick and curse and sing and thrive.”
When we think of the Old South and its literature, we think of romance—of moonlight and magnolias and courtly cavaliers dueling and battling for fair and fiery maids. In his introduction, editor Ben Forkner explains that most nineteenth-century southern novels fostered this romantic image in the form of great sweeping sagas with larger-than-life heroes and heroines. However, countering this tradition are the short gems of Georgia, which represent a frontier culture and a pioneering literature that was “vigorous and vivid and enduring at a time when the great mass of southern fiction, with few exceptions, has precious little to praise or to preserve.”
Whereas the majority of nineteenth-centry novels have faded into oblivion, the Georgia short story has thrived. In the work of Joel Chandler Harris and Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, the lives of the middle and lower classes, black and white, are presented with realism, humor, and healthy self-mockery that have reverberated through both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, influencing the fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Erskine Caldwell, Carson McCullers and Alice Walker. Wealth and poverty, humor and tragedy, the Old South and the New—although we may still not understand what makes up the Southern identity, surely inGeorgia Stories, we recognize its distinctive presence.