A Turn in the South by V S Naipaul - review by John Bayley

John Bayley

Doing the Charleston

A Turn in the South

By

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There can be few people who enjoy dreaming about history who have not remembered Gone with the Wind and Stonewall Jackson and imagined the Southerners winning the war. There is even a book (written by a Yankee of course) entitled If the South had Won, and musing with sentimental fondness on Lincoln’s honourable captivity after Mosby’s troopers had kidnapped him from Washington, and General Lee’s masterly encirclement of the Union army at Gettysburg. It ends with North and South agreeing to join up again after both have fought for the allies in the Great War.

Sentimental dreams, certainly; and the issue of Slavery tactfully left out. But they show the power of myth and the might have been. Jefferson Davies, the Southern president, remarked, though probably not in public, that slavery would come to a natural end anyway; and at least in the short term

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