Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 2) >> Notes & Queries and Simms Society News >> Page 41

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Page 41

Scholarship | 1999

J.B. Meriwether, Professor-Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, was
Simms Professor in residence at the South Caroliniana Library during the summer
of 1999. His promised project is a new descriptive bibliography of the separate
works of Simms----a much needed work. Professor Meriwether has also promised
the Simms Review several notes as a result of his work this summer. His research
assistant was Sean Busick, author of an article in this issue.


In September 1999, Simms Society member Eric Carl Link (Hugh Shott Professor
of English at North Georgia College) published an extremely important literary
history dealing with romance theory as a central aesthetic and philosophical issue
in American letters. This book is entitled Neutral Ground: New Traditionalism
the American Romance Controversy, L.S.U. Press, 267 pages, S47.50. Link, who
has published two articles on Simms and Romance theory in The Simms Review
(3 [1995j, pp. 9-13, and 5 [1997], pp. 1-5) has here, with his co-author G.R.
Thompson of Purdue, considered the bigger issues and broader context. Rarely
has Simms been given his proper due in literary histories; and Neutral Ground has
now come closest to doing so. We would wish to hear more of Woodcraft and the
Border Romances, but The Yemassee is featured (as well it should be). One
encounters such statements as these: "Scott is central to an understanding of the
modern romance worldwide; Simms is central to a proper understanding of the
romance in America.... We have used Simms's words [neutral ground] as one of
the general epigraphs for the entire book," and for its title too, we might add.
Link and Thompson amass impressive data to show that Simms's 1835 preface to
The Yemassee was more a condensation of currently-held beliefs on romance
theory, than original thinking. The authors, however, might have made the point
that Simms was the first major American writer to express them. They do imply
all this, but it certainly would have provided us a very quotable quote. A hearty
congratulations to Link and Thompson!


A reader of Simms's poetry communicates that he is using Simms's Selected Poems as a
aid to courtship. He finds "Dreaming or Waking" (p.110) particularly effective. He
writes that he has made the best progress with his suit through this poem. The
romantically inclined may wish to try the experiment. Send along the results to the