.....and of a Southern background for a childhood of bright praise, forgiveness and love -- this gently probing, dreaming backwards. There are the legends and figures, the heritages of recollections, plantation stories, the formal code and the life of the affections as the author tells of his parents, their parents and all the forebears that have been the warm, friendly ghosts of his growing up. There are the Negroes too, the irregular education, the small but glory that accompanied the wayward and wilful luxury that contributed to the ""ruin of us""; there are aunts who are shy, sweet saints, uncles whose impress cannot be removed, droll grotesqueries that echo brightly down the years, the deep, secret ties of family life from Mississippi to Vermont, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia. There is the shy marvel of youth as it is exposed to a traditionally classic Southern pattern which in its turn gives the boy a maturity when he comes to Columbia University graduate school, lives in the Carolina mountains, or travels abroad and finds the path he is destined to follow. A sharing and a revelation of a measure of inner intensity which has a simple elegance and warm appeal.