mobile cover

Let Me Lie

Being in the Main an Ethnological Account of the Remarkable Commonwealth of Virginia and the Making of Its History
James Branch Cabell. Foreword by R. H. W. Dillard
view on google books

When Let Me Lie was first published in 1947, most reviewers missed the double meaning of the book's title. Deaf to James Branch Cabell's many-layered ironic wit, they read the book as a paean to the old South.

Readers of this new paperback edition are unlikely to repeat the mistake. Let Me Lie is indeed a carefully researched and brilliantly written historical narrative of Virginia from 1559 to 1946—focusing on Tidewater, Richmond, and the Northern Neck—but as a fictional scholar remarks in the book, Cabell's history is "both accurate and injudicious." Virginia's story of itself, Cabell claims, depends on illusion and myth, and his skill as a satirist allows him to construct and deflate these myths simultaneously. Ranging from Don Luis de Velasco and Captain John Smith to Edgar Allan Poe and Ellen Glasgow, from Confederate heroes to the oddities of the post-Civil War Old Dominion, Let Me Lie remains compulsively readable, as history, entertainment, or both.