Books: Border State of Mind

THE FATHERS—Allen Tate—Putnam ($2.50).

For 25 years before the Civil War no one knew which way the Border States would go if war came. They vacillated, compromised, stood on one political foot and then the other, kept the country on pins and needles till the last moment. The literary inheritors of this Border-State vacillation are the Southern regionalists: Poets Allen Tate. John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson. Novelists Caroline Gordon (Mrs. Allen Tate). John Peale Bishop, et al., from the divided States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia. Subtle, urbane and inexhaustibly energetic, they straddle the...