Editorial

South to a New Place

in Critical Survey

In 1971 Albert Murray published South To A Very Old Place. Commissioned by the editor of Harper’s magazine, Willie Morris, to write about ‘home’ in a series of articles, the African American writer produced much more: South To A Very Old Place is memoir, travelogue, social commentary. Orchestrated as a jazz and blues composition, it is a meditation on the American South. Taking his title as our starting point, in this issue of Critical Survey we have gathered contributors who continue the work of critically and creatively mapping the American South, a region that exasperates as it inspires definition(s). Murray’s blues forms are open-ended and improvised so the blues metaphor and the jazz form are key in a collection called ‘South To A New Place’. It begins to chart connections with ‘other’ Souths in ways that open up spaces and places from which we might read the South as a site of exchange – the South of Italy in Michael Kreyling’s essay; the South as shaped and commodified by the best-selling magazine Southern Living in Amy Elias’s essay; and the literary South of Walker Percy and Richard Ford’s making in Martyn Bone’s essay, for example.

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