An Allegory of Universal Legitimacy Chiseled out of Regional Materials: Elizabeth Madox Roberts’s The Time of Man and James Still’s River of Earth - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
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An Allegory of Universal Legitimacy Chiseled out of Regional Materials: Elizabeth Madox Roberts’s The Time of Man and James Still’s River of Earth

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Gisèle Sigal

Abstract

The Time of Man (1926) and River of Earth (1940), two underappreciated classic novels, offer a brilliant and moving yet unsentimental depiction of the Appalachian region and its people at the turn of the twentieth century. More than an account or a mere record of Kentucky’s heritage, their regional perspective is explored with a universal touch. Place actually underpins Elizabeth Madox Roberts (1881-1941) and James Still’s (1906-2001) works of fiction that can be considered as historical and sociological records of a bygone era. Indeed, both writers are acutely aware of their Southern nature in a changing society pervaded with economic transformations. Nonetheless, they write out of a deep sense of place, not about it. The regional materials exposed in the diegesis do not tie them to their region; they are neither deliberate nor stagnant but authentic and natural for a noble cause. Endowed with symbolic titles, both narratives epitomize a human approach to reach the truth of one’s destiny; they excel in their psychological dimension and bring to light the triumph of the human mind; eventually, Roberts and Still willingly participate in its basic demand essentially in love with order, simplicity and unity. Familiar motifs thread through the books: the journey of discovery, the exploration of a simple time and space, and the strong evocation of landscape amidst sufferings, deprivations, and adversity. This essay will explore both masterpieces’ regional components in the tradition of Southern literature towards new horizons. Through a close examination of the writers’ techniques, it will then approach the underpinning common core values such as love, simplicity, humility, courage and endurance that transfigure both novels into works of art. Eventually, this paper will focus on Roberts’s and Still’s position on the basic questions in life and on the possible solutions to the question of existence. Permeated with a legitimate universal validity, they have profound implications for every man, in every place, and every time.
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hal-02326631 , version 1 (22-10-2019)

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  • HAL Id : hal-02326631 , version 1

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Gisèle Sigal. An Allegory of Universal Legitimacy Chiseled out of Regional Materials: Elizabeth Madox Roberts’s The Time of Man and James Still’s River of Earth. 19th Annual International Elizabeth Madox Roberts Conference, Pr/Dr Harry Stoneback - SUNY - New Paltz, Apr 2017, Springfield - Kentucky, Etas-Unis, United States. ⟨hal-02326631⟩

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