Spring 1984 • Vol. VI No. 2 Selected Prose |

John Crowe Ransom: A Gathering of Sentences

[On the occasion of the one-hundred-fiftieth issue of The Kenyon Review we recall its founder. Reflecting on his character and interests has brought to mind the following passages from his prose writings. They sketch one continuity of interest during the period of his full maturity. The first was written when he was forty years old, the last when he was eighty. It is hard to think of many critics writing today that can match his good humor, his intellectual power, and his manifest pleasure in living the life of letters. WFK.] God Without Thunder, 1930 I would define the tragic spirit. Tragedy exhibits always the inevitable failure of secular enterprise. In tragedy the mind makes the critical confession that human goodness, and intelligent work, a combination popularly supposed to be the sufficient cause of prosperity, do not actually produce their triumphant effect upon the material world. Or: The moral order is a wished-for order, which does not coincide with the actual ord

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