Just learned that Eugene Genovese died. I met him once (and his wife on another occasion). And I spoke with the man a number of times when I was at Loome's and once thereafter, and found both he and his wife to be interesting people, if a bit too well bred for my blood (yes, Eugene had been raised working class Italian-American, but he married well, and conveyed an appreciation for having arrived). His Marxism has always been something of an enigma to me - clear as day in most of the texts (until the early 90s or so anyway), but in personal relationships he began distancing himself from other Marxists fairly early on. There is an uncanny simultaneity in Eugene Genovese of speaking clearly (and I think accurately) about pathologies within the master classes of the antebellum South and admiring them, sometimes for reasons quite related to those pathologies. I haven't made it through all of the later Genovese work yet (I own and have read most of but haven't completely finished Mind of the Master Class), and I still don't quite know what to make of the man. As some of you may recall my long post years ago on the Southern Agrarians, my studies of those men led to a perplexity as to why so many traditional conservatives find so much promise and substance in them, and Genovese's later devotion to them strikes me as not just odd, but downright bizarre given much of his analysis of the American South. I can generically appreciate lifelong Genovese's anticapitalism (he never dropped that, and in certain respects seems to have made his anticapitalism a more personal matter after embracing a Catholic anticapitalism) and disdain for liberalism, but it has never been clear to me where he thinks his turn to a Southern inspired traditionalist conservatism got him (in terms of a workable political philosophy and a useful lens via which to "deal with" late modern America). That said, his work on slavery and, in particular, white intellectuals in the American South, is required reading and has been formative in my own coming to (generally acrimonious, at least when it comes to whites with money) terms with the South. I just can't find the sympathy for paternalism that Genovese did. In any event, the man
There are some interesting articles on Genovese's legacy in radical thought here.
I also enjoyed reading this reflection by Paul Gottfried that remembers Genovese and Christopher Lasch and is well worth reading.