Foote’s Historia

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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13 Responses

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    Rachel was his sled.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I’m just embarrassed to have never read Foote, even though about half the grad students in my department have raved about him. I’m currently working through War and Peace and trying to resist the urge to decide if that or Recherche is like the best novel ever. I won’t give away the ending to Proust, aside from saying it was very satisfying.Report

  3. Robert Cheeks says:

    Foote’s a great writer, whether he succeeded in his personal quest with re: to the “Narrative” is another question.
    “War and Peace” was, of course, great..the best, I dunno?
    Two recent works are outstanding: Wendell Berry’s “Hannah Coulter,” and the Irishman, Nial William’s “John.” I recommend both.
    Re: the ‘late unpleasantness,” the finest army/battle analysis and review of Eastern Operations (and specifically Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia) is Douglas Southall Freeman’s “Lee’s Lieutenants”.
    The finest battle study is “Chancellorsville” by General Bigelow. Sadly, only 1,000 copies were published.Report

  4. Dan says:

    I’m just relieved to learn that one can, in fact, reach the end of Proust, as four more volumes loom in front of me.Report

  5. Michael Drew says:

    A question you observations raise is whether/what/who Foote thought that narrative voice to be as he created/employed it? Is it just his own? “His” own with him being located in a particular place/time slightly closer to the events? Or that of a figure other than himself of whom Foote was aware, even if he knew almost no details of him? And also, was the evolution of the narrator’s attitude toward the events that you describe a conscious authorial decision of Foote’s, or was it the result of a similar transformation that Foote himself underwent in earnest over the course of his ordeal in creating the work?Report

  6. J. says:

    I haven’t read all of Foote’s magnum opus on the Civil War but have perused a good bit of the last book, with Sherman’s March, the last few battles in Virginia, Appomattox, Reconstruction, etc. The narrative and Faulknerian style impresses but the lack of supporting materials does finally present a problem IMHE.

    Foote offers a vision of sorts, as Dr Percy realized, and it’s historically based, and superior to cut-rate Civil War product such as Catton–spiritual, even. But Foote’s a bit short on specifics–say in regard to the South’s bumbling in regard to ordnance, ammo, rations, strategy, etc– and a bit soft on the CSA bumblers (Davis at least, and Lee at times, Beauregard, Johnston, etc).Report