SUTTREE and Cycling

This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  SJ 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • 25 Jun 2017 at 9:29 pm #9646

    wesmorgan
    Participant

    Sometimes my interests come together in unanticipated ways. Coincidence perhaps.

    Maybe you saw it on the evening news. The USA Cycling Professional Road Championship races came to Knoxville for the first time today (25 June 2017). The men’s race consisted of 14-laps of a 7.9-mile circuit for a distance of 109-miles. After about 100-miles of racing Larry Warbasse, Neilson Powless and Alexey Vermeulen escaped the pack on the penultimate lap, held off the peloton and onto a 30-second gap. Warbasse held his powder and won an explosive three-up sprint to the line in front of an excited crowd in Knoxville’s “Old City.”

    Had the fictional Gene Harrogate been home he would have no doubt been interested as the race traveled over the same Hill Avenue viaduct which provided the roof to his home (Suttree, p. 170). The route also went past Blount Mansion and the Andrew Johnson Hotel (p. 170), over the Gay Street Bridge from which the racers could have looked down upon Sut’s shantyboat and Ab Jones’ floating roadhouse, and up Sherrod Road for the race’s only significant climb. It was at the top of this climb that in 1940-1941 the McCarthy family rented a multi-gabled stone house with a breath-taking view of the city from Charles S. Sims before buying their home on Martin Mill Pike. (Remember that Sut took Joyce up on “Simms” hill to look at the lights of the city (p. 408). The McCarthy boys would have enjoyed watching the race from their front yard as I did had they been able to wait 76-years for the excitement.


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    • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by  wesmorgan.
    26 Jun 2017 at 10:54 am #9648

    Richard L.
    Member

    Interesting stuff, thanks for that.


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    26 Jun 2017 at 4:00 pm #9649

    SJ
    Member

    Love that. What a fascinating website.

    Question for you Wes (or anyone) – do you know any significance to Gene’s surname, Harrogate? Can’t find any insight into what it might denote.


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    27 Jun 2017 at 1:38 am #9653

    Richard L.
    Member

    SJ, you asked that in a separate thread a couple of months ago, and I answered, but I don’t blame you for asking Wes for his opinion, as he is the best authority on the historical characters in SUTTREE.

    My answer is only from a composite reading of scholars over the years, which most likely include comments from Wes made in this forum. Here’s the redundant answer from that thread:

    Harrogate may have been from Harrogate, Tennessee, a real place big enough to have its own Abe Lincoln museum.

    Some scholars think that he is to Suttree as Huck Finn was to Tom Sawyer, both sharing the buoyancy of innocence. Other scholars see him as the heir to an historical scamp named Sut made famous by the stories of George Washington Harris, hence the Harr in his name.

    He was certainly a part of the Sut family tree, which included Faulkner’s Sutpen, George Washington Harris’s Sut, and McCarthy’s Suttree, all of the gothic South and the latter two of Knoxville and its wider environs.


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    27 Jun 2017 at 1:45 am #9654

    SJ
    Member

    Lawks, I did indeed – and couldn’t find the thread again! Can you point me at it? And thank’ee


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    27 Jun 2017 at 9:23 am #9655

    wesmorgan
    Participant

    Questions about who the character Gene Harrogate may have been based on and how the name “Harrogate” was arrived at have been puzzling scholars for a long time. I don’t have any special insight into the answers although I must admit to having spent quite a bit of time thinking about them. I even began constructing an imaginative tale about Cormac and Annie DeLisle in England in conjunction with Farrah’s Original Harrogate Toffee. I won’t muddy the sulfurous waters further with that story.

    I do not know where McCarthy got the name Harrogate, but I have developed a guess. That speculation is based upon the Knoxville journalist, Bert Vincent. Vincent wrote a long-time local color column for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and is mentioned by name in Suttree on p. 220. Vincent’s columns seem to be a likely source of quite a few of the observations, events and characters in the novel. The most comprehensive collection of Vincent’s writings are found in the Bert Vincent Papers archived in an addition named after him to the Library at Lincoln Memorial University. And yes, Lincoln Memorial University is in Harrogate, Tennessee. Perhaps the name “Harrogate” is an obscure tip of the hat to “Old Bert Vincent.”

    The best known attempt to identify a real person with Gene Harrogate was reported by Mike Gibson writing in the now defunct Knoxville Metro Pulse. In his March 1, 2001, cover story Gibson quotes Gary Goodman, a long-time friend of Cormac’s as saying, “‘I recognized him [as Sheddan] straight off in Suttree,’ Goodman grumbles. ‘I don’t think there’s anyone in the know who doesn’t’” (p. 16). The person he identified was another long-time friend of Cormac’s, John Sheddan.

    A couple of weeks later Buzz Kelley wrote a letter to the editor in response to Gibson’s article in which he fairly convincingly disputed Goodman’s claim (Kelley, 15 March 2001, p. 3).

    Other names have popped-up from time to time as well but all lacking in convincing supportive evidence. My current opinion is that the fictional character Harrogate represents a collage of a number of individuals, some perhaps fictional, in conjunction with McCarthy’s imagination.


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    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  wesmorgan.
    27 Jun 2017 at 9:52 am #9657

    wesmorgan
    Participant

    Oh, and more appropriate to this thread, it should be remembered that the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France started in Leeds and finished in Harrogate. Hmmmm.


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    03 Jul 2017 at 4:38 pm #9669

    SJ
    Member

    Dear Wes Morgan,

    You nailed it for me. Wheels within wheels.

    I live in Leeds.

    😉

    SJ


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