Sunday, November 6, 2011

Civil War Discussion Group, Part 3

October 26 found me once again in the Caledon Library reading room in Victoria City to discuss a memoir from the Civil War.

This month we considered selections from the diary of Mrs. Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, the well-to-do wife of a U.S. Senator from South Carolina before the war and aide to President Jefferson Davis during the war.

Sir JJ Drinkwater and Dame Kghia Gherardi led a large and spirited group, touching on Mrs. Chesnut's views on such topics as the war and her servants, and whether a memoir edited and published two decades after it was written made the author an unreliable narrator.

Civil War discussion 10 26 11 001

Civil War discussion 10 26 11 002

I think there was something of a tendency for some of the participants to judge this woman by the standards of the 21st century. It is true that she was a wealthy woman in a time when that meant owning slaves, and we rightly view that as reprehensible today. It's hard to know the mind of a mid-18th century lady, however - one who knew no other world than that of the antebellum South.

Civil War discussion 10 26 11 003

Civil War discussion 10 26 11 004

Next month we discuss a poem by Walt Whitman, which I approach with some trepidation. Poetry is not my long suit. We shall see.

No comments: