Like cyberpunk was supposed to save literature, Robert Penn Warren was supposed to be the 20th century Melville according to mid-century American critics. Womp Womp. Anyway, I checked this out from the library, haven't had time to really look at it, but wondering if anyone else was planning on it/had heard of it
The Agrarians evolved from a philosophical discussion group known as the "Fugitives" or "Fugitive Poets", whose studies of poetic modernism and of H. L. Mencken's stinging critique of Southern culture led them to confront the effect of modernity on Southern culture and tradition. The informal leader of the Fugitives and the Agrarians was John Crowe Ransom, though he formally repudiated agrarianism in a 1945 essay. The most eloquent exponent of the Agrarian philosophy eventually proved to be Ransom's student and Donald Davidson's friend, Richard M. Weaver. Rather surprisingly, Weaver taught at a Northern institution, the University of Chicago.
The Agrarians were opposed to unbridled modernism and industrialism and bemoaned the loss of traditional Southern culture. Their manifesto was an attack on modern industrial America and posited an alternate direction based on a return to traditional American values, especially what later was called republicanism.
Seward Collins, editor of The American Review, which published some essays by Agrarians in 1933, praised Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler for thwarting a communist revolution in Germany. Allen Tate published a critique of fascism in the 1936 The New Republic, to distance himself (and the other Agrarians) from Collins.
Robert Penn Warren eventually emerged as the most accomplished of the Agrarians, not only as a major American poet but also as a novelist, especially for his 1946 All the King's Men. Warren's later political and social views, in particular his espousing of a liberal political philosophy and his support for racial integration, set him apart from the conservatism of the Agrarians.
I'll Take My Stand was originally criticized as a reactionary and romanticized defense of the Old South, and viewed as little more than useless nostalgia. In recent years, scholars such as Carlson, Scotchie, Genovese and others have taken a second look at this book in light of the problems of modern industrial society and its effect on the human condition and the environment.