Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Some Current Scholarly Desiderata in the Simms Field >> Page 32

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Secondary Scholarship | 1996
Transcription volumes of the Centennial Edition, especially Professor Guilds's volume of
the short fiction, and I think of James E. Kibler's researches into the still-
vexed problem of Simms's pseudonymous publications, and his two volumes
devoted to the poetry. But it is the letters and the biography, I believe, tha
together are the essential starting place for the further work, the sound and
useful work, that remains to be done, that needs to be done, on William
Gilmore Simms.
What, then, do we need most in this still much-neglected field?
Despite the existence now of the distinguished works of scholarship I have
already mentioned, despite the publication in books and periodicals of a
number of helpful critical studies, despite the recent appearance of reprints
and new editions of various books written or edited by Simms, I think it fair
to say that still, today, for no other important American writer of the 19th
century is there so great a discrepancy between what has been done, and
what can and should be done, between what we have and what we need. It is
much to be hoped that the formation of this society will supply new incentive
to rectify the many sins of omission committed by several generations of
critics, scholars, historians, and textbook editors of American literature,
Southern literature, South Carolina literature, and William Gilmore Simms.
We would all agree, I'm sure, on the need for two major scholarly
tools: a full-scale bibliography of Simms's works, both published and
unpublished; and as comprehensive an edition as is possible of his writings.
The needs and opportunities beyond those are so numerous that I'm sure
that no two of us would agree on what we need most, or need soonest. Not
that such agreement is necessary, or even desirable: obviously, each of you
should construct your own list of desiderata, and should immediately begin
researching and writing as many as possible of the books and articles you call
Rather than providing here even a short list of my own, let me speak
further about the two scholarly projects I have already mentioned, the
bibliography and the edition. Or perhaps this is really just one project, for
how can a proper edition be edited until a proper bibliography is compiled?
Let me first emphasize how few libraries have anything like a
comprehensive Simms collection–at the most, I would say, there are only a
handful of research libraries that have a sufficiently good Simms collection
(even counting microforms) to make it possible for a scholar to acquire a