Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Page 39

Scholarship | 1996
Transcription SIMMS IN THE SUMMER

An important event in the Simms world took place on 25 July 1996.
Professor John Guilds, Simms Visiting Research Professor at the South
Caroliniana Library in the Summer of 1996, spoke on "Why Simms Is a Great
American Writer" to a gala assemblage of donors to the University's Research
Professor Endowment, the Library staff, and other Simms admirers and scholars
from throughout the South. Among the scholars attending were Drs. James and
Anne Meriwether, Professor and Mrs. Rayburn Moore and Professor James Kibler
of the University of Georgia, and Professors Robert Ochs and Matthew Bruccoli of
the University of South Carolina. Some of the many Simms Family members
present included Mrs. William Gilmore Simms (Ruby Simms), Mrs. Juanita
Oliphant, and Mrs. Mary Simms Furman. Allen Stokes, Director of the South
Caroliniana Library, gave the welcome. Mrs. Mary Simms Furman gave moving
remarks on how her mother's dream to see her grandfather gain some of the
recognition he deserves is now coming true; and George Terry, Dean and Vice
Provost of the University Libraries, gave the closing. Terry reflected on his
auspicious meeting with Mary C. Simms Oliphant, who, for Terry, as he said, was
in so many ways the embodiment of all that is good in South Carolina's tradition.
In his talk, Professor Guilds remarked that the reader cannot choose any
one work to get the gauge of Simms's greatness, but must read at least twenty of
his titles. He has no singular, obviously "best book." Instead, his value is the sumof a score of them. Guilds gave the three most significant dates in Simms's life as 1816, 1836, and 1856. He then spoke on his research toward publishing a two-
mof a score of them. Guilds gave the three most significant dates in Simms's life as 1816, 1836, and 1856. He then spoke on his research toward publishing a two-
1816, 1836, and 1856. He then spoke on his research toward publishing a two-
volume collection of Simms's Amerindian works that total 49 poems, 28 stories,
and 23 essays. This tally does not include the three Indian novels, Vasconselos,
The Cassique of Kiawah, and The Yemassee. These works prove that Simms was
indeed the best and fullest treater of the Amerindian. Simms deals accurately with
fifty different tribes and particularizes the customs and language associated with
each. Guilds ended by speaking of the growth of Simms scholarship in the last
eight years. Since his Long Years of Neglect appeared in 1988, there have been
eight University Press books published on Simms, two more to appear within the
month, and another two within a year. At least four others are now under contract
with University Presses.
An ample and festive board was spread for a reception following the
program. A particularly interesting transformation occurred at the library's check
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