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Brann the Iconoclast — Volume 01   By: (1855-1898)

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In putting into permanent form the complete works of William Cowper Brann, twenty one years after his death, the sole purpose of the present publishers is to preserve in its entirety the genius of a writer whose work, though produced under the stress of journalism, is destined to endure as literature.

Upon the issues discussed by Brann, the publishers take no sides; they do not stand as sponsors for, nor do they desire to appear in the light of either approving or disapproving his opinions or methods. They were friends and neighbors of many years' standing of the men and institutions mentioned in Brann's writings, but were in no way involved in the bitter controversies and deplorable events which led to Brann's untimely and dramatic death.

The plan and arrangement of this twelve volume set of Brann is simple. The first volume is composed of articles of various length gathered from miscellaneous sources, and includes some of the better known articles from The ICONOCLAST. Volume II to XI inclusive are the files of The ICONOCLAST (from February, 1895 to May, 1898, inclusive), with the matter arranged approximately as it appeared in the original publication. Volume XII contains the story of Brann's death and various biographical and critical articles from the press of the day, together with those of Brann's speeches and lectures which have been preserved. At the close of Volume XII you will find a complete index of subjects and of titled articles for the entire twelve volumes.


As I read the proofs of the last of these volumes, wherein is told the story of Brann's death, my cup of the joy of love's labor is embittered with the gall of an impotent, futile rage against the Sower that flings with mocking hand the seed of genius and recks not where it falls. The germ of such a life as Brann's we can but accept in worshipful, unquestioning gratitude, for the process of its spawning is too entangled to unravel. But of the environment of his life we cannot refrain from rebellious questioning, appreciative though we be of that which was, and of our heritage of the unquenchable spirit that is and shall be as long as our language shall last.

Genius he is, this only Brann we have; genius audacious, defiant, and sublime; whose stature, though his feet be on the flat of the Brazos bottom, towers effulgent over those effigies placed on pedestals by orthodox popularity, and sickly lighted by professorial praise.

Nor is my anger born of the fact that Brann, as warped by his environment of time and place, wasted thought on free silver economics, spent passion on prohibition and negro criminals, lavished wrath on provincial preachers and local politicians or alloyed his style by the so called "vulgarities," which alone could shock into attention the muddle headed who paid his printer's bill for the privilege of seeing barnyard phrases and dunghill words in type.

All this, I can conceive, may have been the particular combination of circumstances that were needed to bring to flower a germ of genius that, had it been planted in last century's Boston, might have given us but another Harvard classic or environed in this century's Greenwich Village only another free versifier of souls a jaunt amid psycho analytics and parlor Bolshevism.

The slouch hatted, gun toting, beer drinking, woman worshiping, man baiting Brann of Texas may have been the particular and only Brann to have developed the colossal courage and fighting fearlessness that gave his poet's soul the reach and stature, the strength and vigor to raise himself above the mere music of his words.

Brann as he was when he heard the shot that killed him, I can accept and proclaim as beyond the need and reach of apology or regret... Continue reading book >>

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