Friday, November 14, 2008

Regret of a Particular Regional Form

"When I heard this, that the general had died because of his consideration for men who a short time before had been shooting at him and doing all their power to wreck his cause, I remembered what my father had said about the South bearing within itself the seeds of defeat, the Confederacy being conceived already moribund. We were sick from an old malady, he said: incurable romanticism and misplaced chivalry, too much Walter Scott and Dumas read too seriously. We were in love with the past, he said; in love with death.

He enjoyed posing as a realist and straight thinker -- war was more shovelry than chivalry, he said -- but he was a highly romantic figure of a man himself and he knew it, he with the creased forehead and his tales of the war in Texas, with his empty sleeve and his midnight drinking beneath the portrait of his wife in that big empty house in New Orleans. He talked that way because of some urge for self-destruction, some compulsion to hate what he had become: an old man with a tragic life, who sent his son off to a war he was to maimed to take part in himself. It was regret. It was regret of a particular regional form" (pg. 199-200).

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