<i>Words</i> Reading and Writing

Julia A. Stern

in Mary Chesnut's Civil War Epic

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780226773285
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226773315 | DOI:
Words Reading and Writing

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Wartime provisions as elemental as peaches and as confected as “moonshines” all played a role in Mary Chesnut's catalogue of the food ways of the Confederate elite. Beyond affording documentary detail of an aspect of bellum social history rarely included in the works of her memoir-writing contemporaries, food for the writer of the 1880s almost always bore social and political meaning. But Chesnut's compendium of convivial meals and edible gifts consumed over four years of strife constituted just one of several of the lists that contributed to the epic significance of the reworked 1880s narrative. Another of the writer's encyclopedic inventories can be summarized under the heading “words.” In her 1880s narrative, Chesnut explored assorted practices of reading and writing, which for her transcended their basic, communicative function.

Keywords: reading and writing; Mary Chesnut; words; wartime provisions; food ways; Confederate elite

Chapter.  10971 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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