From My Highest HillCarolina Mountain Folks
Photographs by Bayard Wootten. With an Introduction by Anna Shannon Elfenbein and an Afterword by Jonathan Morrow
Dargan, Olive Tilford
Paper Edition, $22.50t
Paper ISBN: 1-57233-020-1
Status: In Print
DescriptionIn From My Highest Hill, a long-overlooked masterpiece of American literature, Olive Tilford Dargan captures with affection and uncanny accuracy the character traits, attitudes, folkways, and dialect of the people who lived in the Great Smoky Mountains during the early years of the twentieth century. First published in 1925 as Highland Annals, the story cycle was extensively revised before it was reissued under its current title in 1941. The second edition included for the first time fifty striking illustrations by photographer Bayard Wootten.
Among the delightful characters who come to life in the book are Serena, who "'always take[s] the gait [she] can keep,'" and Sam, who has "'always got duck-oil on his tongue.'" In her moving and amusing encounters with her highland neighbors, Dargan's narrator, an outsider and a woman alone, learns many valuable lessons from them and gradually wins their acceptance and trust.
The republication of From My Highest Hill is comparable in significance to the rediscovery of Kate Chopin's Awakening in the 1960s and of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God in the 1970s. This edition includes an introduction that describes Olive Dargan's life and literary career and assesses From My Highest Hill from a critical perspective. It also contains an afterword that provides biographical information about Bayard Wootten and commentary on her illustrations.
The Author: Olive Tilford Dargan (1869–1968), a Kentucky native who lived for two decades in the mountains of western North Carolina, published many critically acclaimed works of poetry, drama, and prose fiction. Her 1932 radical feminist novel,Call Home the Heart, was reprinted by the Feminist Press in 1983.
The Editors: Anna Shannon Elfenbein teaches classes in American fiction and film and women's studies at West Virginia University. She is the author of Women on the Color Line: Evolving Stereotypes and the Writings of George Washington Cable, Grace King, Kate Chopin and an editor of Engendering the Word: Feminist Essays in Psychosexual Poetics.
Jonathan Morrow is a doctoral candidate at West Virginia University and has contributed essays to Feminist Writers, The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Films, and the journal Art Papers.