The Lytle-Tate Letters
The Correspondence of Andrew Lytle and Allen Tate

Edited by Thomas Daniel Young
and Elizabeth Sarcone

432 pages, 6 x 9 inches

978-1-60473-552-9 Paper $30.00D

Paper, $30.00


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This is a remarkable collection of letters covering nearly four decades of correspondence between two of the American South's foremost literary figures.

The series begins in 1927 when Tate invited Lytle, who was then a student at the Yale School of Drama, to visit him at his apartment at 27 Bank Street in New York. Although they were acquaintances through their involvement with the Fugitives Movement at Vanderbilt, they had never been close friends because Lytle's association with the group occurred after Tate had left Nashville. But after Lytle's first visit with Tate and his wife Caroline Gordon, both the friendship and the correspondence grew.

The letters in this long sequence of exchanges take on a different content and character during each of the decades of the correspondence. The early letters, between 1927 and 1939, show the development of the Lytle-Tate relationship through their common bond-their love for the South. These letters discuss plans for writing their southern biographies, the two Agrarian symposia--I'll Take My Stand (1930) and Who Owns America? (1936)-as well as Lytle's first novel, The Long Night (1936) and Tate's work on his novel, The Fathers. Although the letters of the forties deal with such basic questions as where each man should live and how he should support himself while he writes, their primary focus is first with Lytle's and then with Tate's editorship of The Sewanee Review.

The letters of the fifties are by far the most valuable for literary commentary. In these Lytle reads and critiques many of Tate's essays and poems, and Tate, in turn, reads and responds to Lytle's plans for the novel he was to be so long in writing, The Velvet Horn.

Although many letters in the final group-those of the sixties-are devoted to a discussion of Tate's guest editing of the special T.S. Eliot issue of The Sewanee Review, these are also the letters which reveal the depth of the Lytle-Tate friendship. In these they share their personal problems and advise each other in the difficulties each is forced to face. Tate gives support to Lytle during the long illness and subsequent loss of his wife Edna and, later, during Lytle's own bout with cancer. Similarly, Lytle sees Tate through his divorce from his second wife and into his next marriage. After a short time, Lytle brings consolation in the loss of one of the Tates' infant twin sons.

The correspondence between Tate and Lytle documents the evolution of a long personal and literary friendship between two men who helped shape a large part of modern southern literature.

Thomas Daniel Young (deceased) was Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English Emeritus at Vanderbilt University. Elizabeth Sarcone is a professor of English at Delta State University.

432 pages, 6 x 9 inches