'My dear sir': Holmes to Simms on the present state of letters

Abstract

The focus of this paper is the correspondence between George Frederick Holmes and William Gilmore Simms. These two outstanding individuals had one of the more memorable friendships and collaborations in the intellectual history of the South. Holmes was a literary journalist, critic, essayist, commentator, appraiser, analyst, moralist and reviewer whose output in these forms over a long career was prodigious. He was as an outstanding contributor to various journals and periodicals, some of which were edited by Simms and within which the southern intellectual discussion was to a large measure carried on. In 1844 Holmes submitted a series of letters to Simms who at the time was the editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger." Holmes wished to use his old friend's magazine in order to excoriate his age for its devotion to magazines and periodicals and to discourse at length on how these journals have a corruptive effect on literary standards and taste. In his guise as a literary critic Holmes is writing to an editor who is a great writer in his own right in order to stress upon their readership the importance of adhering to the highest standards of the literary tradition in the face of the rise and growth of popular literature.

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