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The Southern Philosopher: Collected Essays of John William Corrington


Allen Mendenhall, J.D., Ph.D.



Print Version



John William Corrington, once dubbed a “Southern Man of Letters,” is mostly known for his fiction, poetry, and screenplays. Having achieved fame for writing the screenplays for The Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Boxcar Bertha, Omega Man, and other films, Corrington also wrote philosophical, literary, and jurisprudential essays that ought to be widely recognized and celebrated. Corrington turned to screenwriting because he needed money, but the enormity of his intellect is less evident in films and more evident in his essays, which are prescient, bold, provocative, and intelligent. Corrington wrote about such wide-ranging issues as his beloved South, the humanities, law, jurisprudence, Gnosticism, and Eric Voegelin. His writing, with its literary flair and abiding conservatism, is distinctly Southern. Corrington is the most extraordinary Southern philosopher never to have received the sustained attention he deserves. This book is the first to recover the profound and complex essays of this complicated man known more for his day job as a lawyer and screenwriter than for his significant critical essays and lectures. The essays and lectures in this book have never been collected. Some have never been published. This edition is an indispensable introduction to Corrington’s philosophy. Only by studying these essays and lectures may one hope to gain a proper understanding of Corrington’s full works in their broader contexts. 

About the Editor

Allen Mendenhall is associate dean of the Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty. He holds a B.A. in English from Furman University, M.A. in English and a J.D. from West Virginia University, LL.M. in transnational law from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University. He edits the Southern Literary Review and has authored hundreds of publications in law reviews, peer-reviewed journals, magazines, newspapers, literary periodicals, and encyclopedias. His other books include Literature and Liberty (2014) and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon (2017). He lives in Auburn, Alabama, with his wife and two children.

To learn more about Allen, you can visit his blog, The Literary Lawyer, or follow him on Twitter: @allenmendenhall


"Allen Mendenhall's tribute to William Corrington is the next best thing to Resurrection this side of eternity."

--Richard Bishirjian

"This volume contains twenty short works by John William Corrington, each helpfully prefaced by a brief note by Allen Mendenhall providing both context for the piece and rationale for its inclusion. This selection of  critical and philosophical writings perhaps offers a perfect introduction to Corrington's entire corpus of work. It contains none of Corrington's fiction, but does contain his critical reflections on the process of writing and  his rebuke of those critics who characterized his fiction as "realistic"; it contains none of his poetry, but contains his "A Poet's Credo." The collection does contain a generous helping of Corrington's philosophical writing, much of it revolving around the thought of Eric Voegelin, and important essays on the decline and possible recovery of education in America. His reflections on education capture Corrington at his most prophetic. Speaking in 1969, he maintained that "American society within the next fifty years must either have the college and university at its very center, or there may not be any society." The publication of this collection now is a timely reminder of Corrington's cultural and philosophical concerns as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of this prediction."

--Steven D Ealy, Senior Fellow, Liberty Fund

"This book is a rediscovery: John William Corrington is a fascinating figure in Southern letters, popular culture, and philosophical conservatism. Allen Mendenhall has done yeoman's service in bringing these essays back to light."

-- Daniel McCarthy, editor at large, The American Conservative magazine.

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