Montgomery, Marion 1925–

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Montgomery, Marion 1925–

(Marion H. Montgomery, Jr.)


Born April 16, 1925, in Thomaston, Upson County, GA; son of Marion H. and Lottie Mae Montgomery; married Dorothy Carlisle, January 20, 1951; children: Priscilla Montgomery Jensen, Lola Dean, Marion H. III, Heli, Ellyn Montgomery Byrd. Education: University of Georgia, A.B., 1950, M.S., 1953; attended University of Iowa, 1956-58. Politics: "Independent conservative." Religion: "Anglo Catholic."


Home and office—Crawford, GA.


University of Georgia, Athens, assistant director of university press, 1950-52, business manager of Georgia Review, 1951-53; Darlington School for Boys (now Darlington School), Rome, GA, instructor, 1953-54; University of Georgia, instructor, 1954-60, assistant professor, 1960-67, associate professor, 1967-70, professor of English, 1970-87, professor emeritus, 1987—. Converse College, writer in residence, 1963. Western Review, managing editor, 1957-58. Military service: U.S. Army, 1943-46; became sergeant.


Eugene Saxton Memorial Award, Harper and Brothers (publisher), 1960; Georgia Writers Association, award for fiction, 1964, for Darrell, award for poetry, 1970, for The Gull and Other Georgia Scenes; poetry award, Carlton Miscellany, 1967; Stanley W. Lindberg Award, 2001; Gerhart Niemeyer Award, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2003; Earhart Foundation grant.



The Wandering of Desire (novel), Harper and Brothers (New York, NY), 1962.

Darrell (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1964.

Ye Olde Bluebird (novella), New College Press (Sarasota, FL), 1967.

Fugitive (novel), Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1974.

Work represented in anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, edited by Martha Foley, 1971. Contributor of short stories to periodicals.


Dry Lightening, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1960.

Stones from the Rubble, Argus Books (New York, NY), 1965.

The Gull and Other Georgia Scenes, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1969.

Contributor to anthologies, including Best Poems of 1958. Contributor of poetry to periodicals.


Ezra Pound: A Critical Essay, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1970.

T.S. Eliot: An Essay on the American Magus, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1970.

The Reflective Journey toward Order: Essays on Dante, Wordsworth, Eliot, and Others, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1974.

Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden, Whitston Publishing (Troy, NY), 1979.

The Prophetic Poet and the Spirit of the Age, Sherwood Sugden (La Salle, IL), Volume 1: Why Flannery O'Connor Stayed Home, 1981, Volume 2: Why Poe Drank Liquor, 1983, Volume 3: Why Hawthorne Was Melancholy, 1984.

Possum, and Other Receipts for the Recovery of "Southern" Being, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1987.

The Trouble with You Innerleckchuls, Christendom College Press (Front Royal, VA), 1988.

The Men I Have Chosen for Fathers: Literary and Philosophical Passages, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1990.

Liberal Arts and Community: The Feeding of the Larger Body, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1990.

Virtue and Modern Shadows of Turning: Preliminary Agitations, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1990.

Romantic Confusions of the Good: Beauty as Truth, Truth Beauty, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1997.

Concerning Intellectual Philandering: Poets and Philosophers, Priests, and Politicians, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1998.

The Truth of Things: Liberal Arts and the Recovery of Reality, Spence Publishing (Dallas, TX), 1999.

Making: The Proper Habit of Our Being: Essays Speculative, Reflective, Argumentative, St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN), 2000.

Romancing Reality: Homo Viator and the Scandal Called Beauty, St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN), 2001.

John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate: At Odds about the Ends of History and the Mystery of Nature, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2003.

Eudora Welty and Walker Percy: The Concept of Home in Their Lives and Literature, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2003.

On Matters Southern: Essays about Literature and Culture, 1964-2000, edited by Michael M. Jordan, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2005.

Hillbilly Thomist: Flannery O'Connor, St. Thomas, and the Limits of Art, two volumes, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2006.

With Walker Percy at the Tupperware Party: In Company with Fyodor Dostoevsky, Gabriel Marcel, T.S. Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, and Others, St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN), 2007.


Marion Montgomery's fiction often contrasts characters who are leaving the rural South for success in the city with those who, having achieved that success, are trying to recapture their rural beginnings. This particular theme comes from Montgomery's interest in the Agrarian writers of the thirties who advocated an artistic return to the land in order to establish a mutually supportive culture and agriculture.

Montgomery's novel The Wandering of Desire reflects his interests in agrarian themes, telling the story of two men, Wash Mullis and Doc Blalock, and their ultimately failed attempts to conquer the land. Writing about Montgomery's work in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomas Landers noted that the novel "is a complex work in which the diversity of characters and actions … suggests the author's wide knowledge of his region and its lore." Walker Percy, reviewing The Wandering of Desire in Commonweal called the work "a chronicle, a country epic, a first novel sprung forth whole and entire with full Faulknerian panoply of legends, yarns, family tales, and a command of country epithet unsurpassed since The Hamlet."

Discussing Montgomery's second novel Darrell, Landers said that the work "is simpler in its plot structure than The Wandering of Desire…." In Darrell, Landers commented, the "action is uncomplicated and is rendered sequentially. Indeed the novel is Montgomery's only conventional fictional narrative." In this novel Montgomery tells the tale of a country-born and country-raised man called Darrell, who convinces his aged grandmother to move with him from their small town to the city. The two end up settling, not in the heart of the city, but on its perimeter, in the Atlanta suburbs. Eventually, Darrell's obsession to fulfill the wish of a dying girl, Sandra Lee, to visit the Atlanta zoo, leads both of them to their deaths in a motorcycle crash. Landers concluded: "Beneath this straightforward plot—which is no more than a situation out of which grows the final tragic consequence—the reader finds a statement of Montgomery's view of urban life. Suburbia is rendered as kind of a banal hell in which people are manipulated by forces beyond their control." O.B. Emerson, writing in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, said of Darrell: "With his clear voice, insight, and vision, Marion Montgomery is one of the most appealing spokesmen for the new South as well as the old." And in Best Sellers, Luke M. Grande assessed the book as "one of those flawless works of art being turned out by Southern writers as only they, apparently, can." He made note of Montgomery's "technical skill," calling him "an accomplished storyteller," and praised "his penetrating vision of the tragicomedy of life with rare effectiveness."

In 1974 Montgomery published Fugitive, which Landers considered to be "his most overtly Agrarian" work. Fugitive tells the story of Walt Mason, a successful songwriter in Nashville, who moves to the small town of Weaverton, Tennessee, in search of rural simplicity. The town, however, is far from the idyllic country community Mason seeks. Like other cities, Weaverton is plagued by commercialism and a dependence on technology. According to Landers, Fugitive will present "some difficulties for the critic or reader who expects a conventional plot composed of sequential events." Montgomery's style in this novel includes numerous digressions, the relevance of which may not be immediately apparent to the reader. The work demands from the reader, said Landers, "a willing suspension of disbelief." New York Times Book Review contributor Shirley Ann Grau found Montgomery's Fugitive "difficult, crabbed, full of half-disclosed meanings." For Grau "the experimental structure … makes unnecessary demands on the reader," and she found that this "desperately serious literary venture" "leaves the impression of a simple story complicatingly told." Thomas H. Landess of the Georgia Review cited Montgomery as "one of a handful of writers whose work belies the prophecies of sociological critics that the epoch of significant Southern fiction has come to and end," and deemed Fugitive "a work as ambitious in its own way as anything yet attempted by a Southerner of his generation." And although he found the book's shifting point of view "tricky," and expressed the concern that Montgomery "here is so bold in his aspirations that throughout the novel the reader spends much of his time wondering if the action, however skillfully rendered, can possibly bear the burden of the author's weighty thematic substance." He concluded: "The work is extraordinarily successful, which is to say that it represents a substantial literary achievement." Landess summarized: "what Montgomery has written here is the American success story played backwards, a tale of a hero who leaves fame and fortune in the city to seek a humdrum life on the farm…. For these and many other reasons his trip is well worth the time and trouble, however tortuous the turns in the road. I suspect that this is the first novel of a kind, and as such it deserves our most serious and respectful attention."



Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 7, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1977.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 6: American Novelists since World War II, Second Series, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1980.


American Literature, January, 1971, review of T.S. Eliot: An Essay on the American Magus, p. 594.

Best Sellers, May 15, 1964, Luke M. Grande, review of Darrell.

Critique, Volume 8, number 1, 1965, O.B. Emerson, review of Darrell.

Georgia Review, spring, 1967, review of Stones from the Rubble, p. 135; summer, 1974, Thomas H. Landess, review of Fugitive, p. 212; fall, 1985, review of The Prophetic Poet and the Spirit of the Age, p. 629.

Modern Age, spring, 2001, John Attarian, review of The Truth of Things: Liberal Arts and the Recovery of Reality, p. 167; spring, 2006, Patrick J. Walsh, review of Eudora Welty and Walker Percy: The Concept of Home in Their Lives and Literature, p. 166.

National Review, August 11, 1970, review of T.S. Eliot, p. 852.

New Republic, July 27, 1974, review of Fugitive, p. 32.

New York Times Book Review, June 9, 1974, Shirley Ann Grau, review of Fugitive, p. 4.

Poetry, October, 1966, review of Stones from the Rubble, p. 48.

Review of Politics, spring, 2001, Kurt J. Miyazaki, review of The Truth of Things: Liberal Arts and the Academy, p. 414.

Sewanee Review, spring, 1965, review of Darrell, p. 333.

Times Literary Supplement, January 1, 1971, review of T.S. Eliot, p. 10.

Weekly Standard, April 10, 2006, Patrick J. Walsh, review of On Matters Southern: Essays about Literature and Culture, 1964-2000.

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Montgomery, Marion 1925–

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