With this collection of essays, the literary record of one of the first and most important men of letters from the South is finally reevaluated from the critical perspective time provides.
William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870) was a poet, critic, novelist, and correspondent whose accomplishment has long been overshadowed by the events of history. As a leading writer and advocate of the antebellum south, Simms suffered from the mercurial judgments of the established publishing and literary circles of the North. Since his death he has slipped into relative obscurity with the inability or unwillingness of most of his critics to separate Simms’s artistic achievements from what have been perceived as flaws in his character.
Together witht he collected letters of Simms—coedited by T.C. Duncan Eaves, to whose memory this book is dedicated—the essays included in Long Years of Neglect can now begin to rectify the damage done over time to the reputation of Simms and his writing, to supersede the options of the past with scholarly and critical appraisal of the work itself, and to offer fresh insight into William Gilmore Simms as a significant and intriguing figure in early American letters.
As editor Guilds speculates in his introduction, “It is conceivable that replacing myth with fact will become fashionable in Simms scholarship, and, even more important, that reading the works—instead of reading the reasons they should be avoided—will become standard practice for Simms as it is for other authors of his stamp.” It was the aim of this book to initiate the realization of that goal.