Thursday, February 9, 2023

Booknotes: I Thank the Lord I Am Not a Yankee

New Arrival:
I Thank the Lord I Am Not a Yankee: Selections from Fanny Andrews's Wartime and Postwar Journals edited with commentary by Stephen Davis (Mercer UP, 2023).

From the description: "In December 1864, twenty-four year-old Eliza Frances ("Fanny") Andrews began a journal that she would maintain through August 1865. Although overshadowed by Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary From Dixie, Miss Andrews's War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl surely ranks among the most observant and intelligent wartime memoirs by a Southern woman. Frances was born into a well-to-do Georgia family, received a strong education, and was raised to become a young woman able to support herself by writing for magazines and newspapers."

Credited as "edited with commentary," Stephen Davis's work on this title is a bit different from typical Civil War journal editing in that he essentially crafts an editorial narrative that incorporates select passages from Andrews's self-edited War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl. In addition to footnoting the combined texts, Davis's introduction and epilogue relay information about Andrews's life before and after the war.

In editing War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl over the years preceding its 1908 publication, Andrews sought to remove passages that might hurt the feelings of those still living or otherwise make her out to be "an ass" (her words). Though she admits that the bitter anti-Yankee words and tone found throughout her journal (which was written in the wake of Sherman's destructive path through her state) did not "represent the present feeling of the writer," she let them stand so as to not "falsify the record." Davis's intro recounts which scholarly volumes in the Civil War literature have used the journal, noting that its multiple reprintings over many decades also attest to its historical and historiographical value.

The Andrews writings in I Thank the Lord I Am Not a Yankee are presented in three parts. In addition to the December 1864 - August 1865 journal, the volume contains Andrews's Scott's Monthy Magazine articles (written under the pen name "Elzey Hay"), some of which are described by the editor as marking the emergence of a "mid-nineteenth-century protofeminist" voice. Published between 1866 and 1869, the magazine articles are eight in number. The third and final part of the book follows Andrews's 1870 travel journal that covered her seven-week visit of New York and New Jersey. That text is presented in the same editorial fashion as the wartime and early-Reconstruction journal.

Andrews was also a teacher, acclaimed novelist, and poet. According to Davis, royalties from the textbooks she wrote provided much of her income until her death in 1931. Of course, for CWBA readers, the main draw of this volume is the Andrews material found in Part I, which Davis describes as "a wartime journal that ranks among the best in Southern literature."

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