25 February 2010

Jan Nordby Gretlund, ed., Madison Jones' Garden of Innocence

Jan Nordby Gretlund's Madison Jones' Garden of Innocence (Odense: The University Press of Southern Denmark, 2005) is the first booklength critical publication.

The front flap reads 'Madison Jones's literary heritage has been Vanderbilt's Agrarian movement. He has absorbed fully the concerns of Donald Davidson, Andrew Lytle, and Allen Tate. Today Jones is the most notable proponent of their ideals and environmentalism.

'He is a central figure in American literature, but paradoxically not very well known. Neither his eleven novels nor the movie of An Exile have brought Jones popular recognition. He seems transfixed in the shadow of William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, and other giants, and not many have realized Jones's importance.

'He writes about conflict between the native and the alien, tradition and progress, and innocence and experience. Like his fellow-novelists George Garrett and David Madden, who have contributed to this volume, Jones is preoccupied by the presence of the past. He shares the regret at the loss of inherited values and is perhaps the last Tennessee Agrarian, but Jones's fictional universe goes beyond Agrarian thought.

'He has been praised by Ashley Brown, Monroe Spears, and Lewis P. Simpson, as an important transitional writer. And according to contemporary writers Madison Smarrt Bell, William Hoffmann, and Lee Smith, his novels are lessons in the possiblity of the immediate.

'Madison Jones has a dark view of human experience, but he also has self-knowledge and compassion. He has succeeded in finding his own voice and has created an emphatically moral world that transcends its Southern particulars.'

More of this here in due course.

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