The Partisan


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“All students of Southern literature owe a huge debt to Jack Guilds and the University of Arkansas Press for providing us with the elegant and useful new editions of the work of William Gilmore Simms.”

—Noel Polk, editor, Mississippi Quarterly


The writings of William Gilmore Simms (1806–1870) provide a sweeping fictional portrait of the colonial and antebellum South in all of its regional diversity. Simms’s account of the region is more comprehensive than that of any other author of his time; he treats the major intellectual and social issues of the South and depicts the bonds and tensions among all of its inhabitants. By the mid-1840s Simms’s novels were so well known that Edgar Allan Poe could call him “the best novelist which this country has, on the whole, produced.”


The thirteenth volume in the ongoing Arkansas Edition of the works of Simms, The Partisan is the first in order of publication of Simms’s Revolutionary War romances. Although Simms took advantage of the novelist’s prerogative to invent characters and events for his saga, he did so with a historian’s eye, making extensive use of official histories; letters, diaries, and other documents; family traditions; and unpublished and published memoirs. Simms gives human interest to the novel’s historical framework with two love triangles, mixing romantic conventions with gritty realism that outlines the four classes of Simms’s ideal society. The Partisan is also remarkable among Simms’s work for its use of symbols, indicating, perhaps, a new intention for the novel. The result is a satisfying work of literary art enlivened with adventure and humor while remaining true to the history behind it.

The University of Arkansas Press edition of the Selected Fiction of William Gilmore Simms has as its aim to publish the major novels and short fiction in reliable texts, together with scholarly introductions, annotations, and other matter useful to scholars, critics, and teachers of Simms’s work. Though not full-dress editions in the strictest sense, the volumes of the Arkansas Simms follow the conventions of scholarly editing by reprinting the last edition revised by Simms during his lifetime. Orthography, capitalization, and word division follow nineteenth-century practices, with no effort to modernize spelling or punctuation. Earlier volumes in the series have included both an introduction by Professor John C. Guilds, now the general editor emeritus, and a historical note and afterword by the editor of that particular volume. In the recent volumes the introduction, historical note, and afterword will be combined into a single introduction prepared by the volume editor.