Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001 - History - 416 pages
34 Reviews

A landmark work of American photojournalism “renowned for its fusion of social conscience and artistic radicality” (New York Times)

 

In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out on assignment for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when, in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was first published to enormous critical acclaim. This unsparing record of place, of the people who shaped the land and the rhythm of their lives, is intensely moving and unrelentingly honest, and today—recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century—it stands as a poetic tract of its time. With an elegant new design as well as a sixty-four-page photographic prologue featuring archival reproductions of Evans's classic images, this historic edition offers readers a window into a remarkable slice of American history.

  

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And Walker Evans's photographs are spellbinding. - Goodreads
I kept looking at the pictures. - Goodreads
Word of advice: only read it in small doses - Goodreads

Review: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

User Review  - Judah The Omnipotent - Goodreads

This book is certainly not your average book, and isn't for everyone. It rambles, loses its own sense of plot, and is incredibly dense. However, its unique perspective, unheard of writing style and ... Read full review

Review: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

User Review  - Linda Hartlaub - Goodreads

When I was in college, this book topped my list of best-loved books. Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's life, but I would not say that now. Don't get me wrong - this is still a powerful book detailing the ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

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About the author (2001)

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 27, 1909 and educated at Harvard, James Agee crowded versatile literary activity into his short and troubled life. In addition to two novels, he wrote short stories, essays, poetry, and screenplays; he worked professionally as a journalist and film critic. Appropriately, he is best remembered for a work that combines several genres and literary approaches. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a documentary report on sharecropper life accompanied by vividly realistic photographs by Walker Evans, has been called "a great Moby Dick of a book" (New York Times Book Review). It may be considered an important precursor of the so-called nonfiction novel that was to gain prominence during the 1960s. The Morning Watch (1954), a novel in the tradition of portraits of artists-to-be, and A Death in the Family, a moving account of domestic life based on the loss of Agee's father belong to more conventional types of fiction. The 1960 dramatization of All the Way Home by Tad Mosel, won a Pulitizer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award; it was also cited by Life as the "Best American Play of the Season." Agee's work for the screen included his scripts for The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter. Agee on Film (1958-60) consists of a gathering of reviews and comments as well as five scripts. Prior to Laurence Bergreen's well-received 1984 biography of Agee, the principal source of information about his life was Letters of James Agee to Father Flye, a collection of seventy letters written by Agee to his instructor at St. Andrew's School and trusted friend throughout his life. The letters show Agee most often in a reflective, self-condemning mood. The final letters, written from the hospital where he was battling daily heart attacks, are touching, as are his sad reflections on the work he yet wanted to do. Agee died in New York of a heart attack on May 16, 1955. He was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for A Death in the Family.

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