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1. A Death in the Family (Penguin
2. James Agee: Film Writing and Selected
3. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men:
4. James Agee: Let Us Now Praise
5. Letters of James Agee to Father
6. A Death in the Family: A Restoration
7. A Death in the Family (Winner
9. Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment
10. James Agee: Selected Poems (American
11. James Agee: A Life
12. Collected Poems of James Agee
13. James Agee: Reconsiderations (Tenn
14. Some Time in the Sun: The Hollywood
15. New Critical Essays on James Agee
16. American Silences: The Realism
17. James Agee Rediscovered: The Journals
18. Brooklyn Is: Southeast of the
19. Irony in the Mind's Life: Essays
20. Agee Agonistes: Essays on the

1. A Death in the Family (Penguin Classics)
by James Agee
Paperback: 320 Pages (2009-09-29)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014310571X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The classic American novel, re-published for the 100th anniversary of James Agee's birth

Published in 1957, two years after its author's death at the age of forty-five, A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident-a tragedy that destroys not only a life, but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion, A Death in the Family is a masterpiece of American literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (83)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the all time great books...
I don't know what prompted me to read this book.I don't read poetry, but I bet this novel has the same impact as a great poem on those that understand poetry.It explains the impact of death from the perceptive of everyone effected.When I recommend the book, the subject is unappealing.If you do not read this book, you will miss one of the great pieces of literature.

3-0 out of 5 stars Overhyped?
James Agee died in 1955, leaving A Death in the Family, barely finished, as his sole full-length novel. Agee was known for his poetry and non-fiction work, alongside movie reviews and screenplays. This was hailed as his masterpiece, and it obtained the Pulitzer Prize. But one wonders to what extent Agee's trajectory influenced the novel's reception.

A Death in the Family is one of these slow pieces where the action is in the impressions formed by the characters from a single event, in this case the death of a family member. Set in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1915, the novel does include a few moving scenes in between soft canvases of Southern life. But it is also filled with much dull and monotonous dialogue. It skids slowly in between high points. Indeed, the best chapters concern the children's reaction to their father's death, their incomplete understanding of what has happened, and their struggle with adult grief and embarrassment. But these chapters are a small part of the novel. The rest deals with the numerous and sometimes interchangeable members of the storyline's extensive family. The effect is uneven and, I found, not as stirring as the hype promises.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Affecting Self-Portrait
James Agee's mid-century classic, based on his own experiences, skips between straightforward narration of the events surrounding the death of a young father and husband, and the interior thought streams of the family.Also included are fragmentary flashback scenes found with the manuscript at the time of the author's death - but the editors, without guidance, and to avoid writing awkward transitional material, append these character studies and backstory elements to the end of Parts I and II.The result is a hybrid of Agee's words and of editorial structure - one that, despite the limitations of unlucky circumstances, retains its strength and poignancy.

For those who may wonder whether Agee's intentions were well served by his editors, a new edition has been published within the last few years edited by Michael A Lofaro that might answer that question - A Death in the Family: A Restoration of the Author's Text.A selection of four chapters left out of the original edition - describing events that take place before the father's death - were previewed in Harper's Magazine in 2007, and though these sections are stylistically the same as the 1957 version, imagining these 'lost chapters' combined with the measured pacing of the traditional storyline does not strike me as a more complete rendering of Agee's purpose.To invert an old baseball saying, it would seem like subtraction by addition - tinkering with this powerful and effective work could very well magnify the present flaws that are concealed within the writing and ruin a delicate balance.

Agee's experience with losing his father at a young age was surely the drive behind this book, and no doubt much of what he writes is how he remembers it.But intentionally or no, the wealth of detail that he includes during his character's cultural response to their grief is noted with near anthropological care.And the characters are nearly primal in their emotions - unique to their time and place, they react in response to interior motivations rather than a melodramatic, homogeneous, learned set of emotions from popular media.It is an honest narrative.

Two issues only, though they run through the entire book. One is Agee's use of dialogue, which in its attempt to convey the rhythms of the area's speech includes too many instances of chatter that the reader could have easily inferred, and also some early use (though discontinued later) of 'eye dialect', or phonetic representation of a southern accent.The other problem, somewhat more serious, is Agee's attempt to present the children's viewpoints.By the time the novel concludes, there is an aggregate suspicion that Rufus and Caroline's thoughts are less like children's thoughts than a condescending adult's imagining of what a child's thoughts might be.Some readers may also question Agee's commentary regarding the efficacy of religious orders during personal tragedy.Undoubtedly this bitter view was based on experience, and in 1957, may also have been a rather dramatic attack on a powerful institution - today it seems loud and unsubtle.

Even with these flaws, (perhaps even because of them?), the book is strong and impressive in the examination of the thoughts of Jay Follett's family as they privately deal with the news of his death.Even more so, and worth the entire experience of the book is the introductory short, 'Knoxville: Summer of 1915', inserted by the editors as a prologue but originally published in 1938 - just excellent.For the remainder Agee sticks to the style pioneered by the modernist writers before him, most often reminding me of Dos Passos - but some of that is a product of the editors, and the structure they imposed on the manuscript.Still, the genuine effort at contemplative storytelling in 'A Death in the Family', as opposed to the jokey superficiality of more contemporary literature, feels like a restorative.An affecting, if tragic, self-portrait.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sad, beautiful, artistic and real - this book tore at my heartstrings.
James Agee was born in Knoxville in 1909.At the age of 6 his father was killed in an automobile accident.The boy grew up to become a writer and then, in 1955, he died of a heart attack.He was working on "A Death in the Family" at the time and it was later pieced together, published in 1957 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1958.I can well understand why.It is an amazing work that tore at my heartstrings and made it one of the saddest books I've ever read.

Art follows life.The book is set in 1915 and is the story of a family and the loss of a young husband in a car accident.Parts of the book are narrated through the voice of a young boy in a way that clear, nuanced and a slightly skewed portrait of how he views his world.There is also a poetic artistic tone through his eyes as well as throughout the whole work.As I read it I couldn't help but appreciate the unique way the author described his world.

In addition to the boy, we also meet the rest of the family - his mother, grandparents, aunt and uncle and younger sister.They become real and their feelings and reactions to the tragedy that befalls them is immediate and highly emotional.We go through all of this with them - the seed of disbelief, the agony of waiting to find out what happened and though it all there is a deep connection between the characters and the reader includingflashbacks and conversations which help describe exactly who these people are. The father comes from mountain folk and his wife comes from the middle class.There is something rough and appealing about the father andI loved the way he was with his young son.The mother is religious and this gives her comfort but the Catholic priest she calls upon in her hour of need comes across in a negative way.All of the people seem absolutely real and the author gets into their hearts and souls.I especially loved his descriptions of the men - from the young boy whose confusion of the world around him is familiar and haunting to the companionship of the father and the honesty of his uncle.

The book brings the reader into the world of Knoxville in 1915.There are family relationships as well as some simple and evocative descriptions of the racism of the time.And though it all, I felt the loss of the husband, identified with the sorrow and consider this book a beautiful and artistic questioning of the meaning of life and death.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read it out loud: with voices
Agee is one of those writers who, for some reason, I always want to read aloud.It's a fairly difficult thing to do, because his pace and construction is so dependent on the sentiments underlying each sentence.And these, as is normal (I think) can vary from moment to moment, sentence to sentence.And these are so tightly wrought, I have no doubt that each word was carefully weighed.The power of voicing these sentiments, struggling with them, can be uncanny.Thankfully, you don't need a guide to understand his direction - this is language picked straight out of his life, and made sacred.

At first he seems to be playing games, faking you out with shifts in his foreshadowing. But despite awareness of the deployment of a strategy, I have never been able to sit down and read the whole thing straight through - my heart seems to stop, and I have to put it down.I get upset, viscerally.It tears me apart, up and down. A remarkable achievement- and if you have the time to look at an Agee biography, the vibrations only intensify. ... Read more

2. James Agee: Film Writing and Selected Journalism (Library of America)
by James Agee
Hardcover: 748 Pages (2005-09-22)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$23.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931082820
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
James Agee brought to bear all his moral energy, slashing wit, and boundless curiosity in the criticism and journalism that established him as one of the commanding literary voices of America at mid-century. In 1944 W. H. Auden called Agee's film reviews for The Nation "the most remarkable regular event in American journalism today." Those columns, along with much of the movie criticism that Agee wrote for Time through most of the 1940s, were collected posthumously in Agee on Film: Reviews and Comments, undoubtedly the most influential writings on film by an American.

Whether reviewing a Judy Garland musical or a wartime documentary, assessing the impact of Italian neorealism or railing against the compromises in a Hollywood adaptation of Hemingway, Agee always wrote of movies as a pervasive, profoundly significant part of modern life, a new art whose classics (Chaplin, Dovzhenko, Vigo) he revered and whose betrayal in the interests of commerce or propaganda he often deplored. If his frequent disappointments could be registered in acid tones, his enthusiasms were expressed with passionate eloquence. This Library of America volume supplements the classic pieces from Agee on Film with previously uncollected writings on Ingrid Bergman, the Marx Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat, Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine, and a wealth of other cinematic subjects.

Agee's own work as a screenwriter is represented by his script for Charles Laughton's unique and haunting masterpiece of Southern gothic, The Night of the Hunter, adapted from the novel by Davis Grubb.This collection also includes examples of Agee's masterfully probing reporting for Fortune-on subjects as diverse as the Tennessee Valley Authority, commercial orchids, and cockfighting-and a sampling of his literary reviews, among them appreciations of William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, S. J. Perelman, and William Carlos Williams. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Inspired, Kind
James Agee was the first film critic, that I know of, who percieved and prophesied the poetic power of images on film.After reading his addictive reviews and enjoying his rich and witty prose the reader will know a lot about Agee the man, his sensitivities, his ideals and his prejudices.Anyone interested in film from the 1940's or film criticism in general should really own this book.

An excerpt:
"During the long climax these clashings blend in such a way that the picture, faults and all, soars along one of the rarest heights possible to art-the height from which it is seen that the whole race, including the observer, is to be pitied, laughed at, and revered for its delusions of personal competence for good, evil, or mere survival, as it sleepwalks along ground which continuously opens bottomless chasms beneath the edges of its feet."

Obviously these are not simply movie reviews, they are personal essays on the topic of film revealing a sensitive humanist and visionary of the latent power of images.

4-0 out of 5 stars Film Writing and Selected Journalism
Includes the classic Agee on Film as well as the screenplay for the classic, chilling Night of the Hunter, this is a must read for film fans of the WWII era.Never shy to express an opinion, Agee wrote with great passion and intellegence about the films of the period.I was esp. impressed with the features he wrote for the fledgling perodical - The Nation.When he discovered a film he liked, he would delve into great detail on what interested him in the work (sometimes pieces would continue from one issue into the next).I also appreciated his willingness to say that a film touched a particular interest in him and might not be to the taste of all readers (can you imagine a critic doing that today - actually putting him or herself out there as just another spectator as opposed to a critical god....)As with the theatrical writings of Ken Tynan - a treasure. ... Read more

3. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: The American Classic, in Words and Photographs, of Three Tenant Families in the Deep South
by Walker Evans, James Agee
Paperback: 432 Pages (2001-08-14)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618127496
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
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 of the rhythm of their lives was called intensely moving and unrelentingly honest, and is "renowned for its fusion of social conscience and artistic radicality" (New York Times). Today it stands as a poetic tract of its time, recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. With an elegant new design as well as a sixty-four-page photographic prologue of Evans's classic images, reproduced from archival negatives, this sixtieth anniversary edition reintroduces the legendary author and photographer to a new generation.Amazon.com Review
Just what kind of book is Let Us Now Praise Famous Men? Itcontains many things: poems; confessional reveries; disquisitions on theproper way to listen to Beethoven; snippets of dialogue, both real andimagined; a lengthy response to a survey from the Partisan Review;exhaustive catalogs of furniture, clothing, objects, and smells. And thenthere are Walker Evans's famously stark portraits ofdepression-era sharecroppers--photographs that both stand apart from and reinforceJames Agee's words.

Assigned to do a story forFortune magazine about sharecroppers inthe Deep South, Agee and Evans spent four weeks living with a poor whitetenant family, winning the Burroughs's trust and immersing themselves in asharecropper's daily existence. Given a first draft of the resultingarticle, the editors at Fortune quite understandably threw up their hands--asdid several other editors who subsequently worked with a later book-lengthmanuscript. The writing was contrary. It refused to accommodate itself tothe reader, and at times it positively bristled with hostility. (What otherbook could take Marx as the epigraph and then announce: "These words arequoted here to mislead those who will be misled by them"?) Response to the book waspuzzled or unfriendly, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men sputteredout of print only a few short years after its publication. It took the 1960s,and a vogue for social justice, to bring Agee's masterwork the audience itdeserved.

Yet the book is far more interesting--aesthetically and morally--than thesort of guilty-liberal tract for which it is often mistaken. On anexistential level, Agee's text is a deeply felt examination of what itmeans to suffer, to struggle to live in spite of suffering. On a personallevel, it is the painful, beautifully written portrait of one man'sobsession. In its collaboration with Evans's photographs, the book is also a groundbreaking experiment in form. In theend, however, it is more than merely the sum ofits parts. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is, quite simply, a bookunlike any other, simmering with anger and beauty and mystery. --MaryPark ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars In his own words
When I was in university in the 1960s for about year I carried this book around in my back pocket, being whimsically obnoxious to my friends by pulling it out and reading from it. For me these reviews are about the confusion about the place of this book in literature (a confusion which is correctly noted by these thoughtful reviewers) but I think they will make more sense if we quote Agee himself on his book:

"It is simply an effort to use words in such a way that they will tell as much as I want to and can make them tell of a thing which has happened and which, of course, you have no other way of knowing. It is in some degree worth your knowing what you can, not because you have any interest in me but simply as the small part it is of human experience in general. It is one way of telling the truth: the only way possible of telling the kind of truth I am here most interested to tell."

Like Finnegans Wake, this book is a never ending adventure in itself.

4-0 out of 5 stars additional information
Other reviewers have done a fine job describing this book.It is an often difficult (for several reasons) but I think important text that will be enjoyed by fans of history, sociology, literature, or art.

I wanted to suggest two sites that have additional information that readers may enjoy and find valuable:
The first is a 2005 article from Fortune (The Most Famous Story We Never Told) that follows up with Charles Burroughs (Burt Gudger)and Laura Minnie Lee Tengle (Flora Merry Lee Ricketts).It sheds some light on how the families perceived the assignment and book.
The second is the Library of Congress FSA-OWI collection ([...]) from which Evans's photographs are taken. Do a search on Hale County, AL and you'll find several dozen photos of the families including more candids and more smiles.

5-0 out of 5 stars Knoxville is coming
Yes, their assignment was to document depression era sharecroppers, but that's not why you should read it. You should read it because James Agee, uniquely in my experience, gets drunk on American language the same way the Delphic sibyl got drunk on methane and babbled worship worthy Greek. I first fell in love with him through Barber's setting of Knoxville, Summer 1915, then I read his posthumous novel (which won him the Pulitzer) A Death in the Family. No other American writer writes like this. It is seductive, it is teasing, it s sometimes so convoluted and knotted it gives Henry James AND William Faulkner a run for their money. But in the end, the poetry blazes with a fierceness and an honest that makes me forget to breathe. Many reviewers refer to what they felt the book was trying to get them to do, as if it were, somehow, coercive. I just hear the great poet and the great poetry of Knoxville, Summer of 1915 coming, twenty years away, with such a deafening roar that I'm glad I'm alive, if only for the privilege of dying in the presence of such American greatness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Let Me Now Praise
So many words written about this wonderful evocation of rural hardship, need I add more. A dab of Whitmanesque enthusiasm, a nother of Joycean stream of cosciousness(replete with a'Molly Bloom' sense of 'yea saying' in the final paragraph) There's a poignancy to the descriptive powers of the author that beckons the photos. It's as if the prints of the day's photography had arrived and Agee had paused over them before committing his pen to his diary. Regrettably, the photo section of my volume too easily broke from the spine of the book on opening it for the first time. However good these photos are, in a sense, they are made subsidiary to the marvels of the written word, demonstrating the power of an awesomely equipped author over the visual artist. He rambles, he meditates, he anguishes over his imposition as outsider author,and its this close to the bone marriage of inspection to introspection which will take hold of a suitably sympathetic reader until the book's final breath(check the ruminations on the patterns of a cross-cut saw on woodgrain on p 128. Admittedly there are ethical questions regarding this anthropological enterprise, but he chooses to absolve his anguish about them by raphsodising and elevating the stricken mood of the place and the people; canononizing them in ways the photos never reach for. This is accomplished by bringing an attentiveness to every scent and scratch in such tedious detail that no casual user or rural occupant would contemplate. Such slumming in the poverty zone would rankle political correctness these days, especially given the supple muscle of enriched vocabulary far beyond the comprehension and scope of his subjects. But, in literary terms, if p.c were to censor such a voice, all of us would be impoverished.

3-0 out of 5 stars If nothing else, certainly brilliant and thought-provoking
Let us Now Praise Famous Men, in all its poetry and prose, reminds me of an epic, like the Hindu Mahabharata or Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The lyrical narrative reveals just as much, if not more about Agee, than his subjects. His writing style excludes his subjects as readers.

His prose, which tends to be lofty and cerebral, is also beautiful and brilliant. But, I often wondered, who he was
writing for? The New Yorker audience? The distance in his observations often left me feeling cold. I imagine these hardworking sharecroppers exhibiting some joy, some evidence of warmth, of hope. But I had difficulty finding it in Agee's voice.

The length of Agee's sentences and paragraphs were long, each containing an entire scene, and I labored through them, hoping sleep would not steal me from a passage I might not finish. It was as though Agee too, was afraid sleep would come and steal him from his mission, and so kept hacking away at each sentence, adding commas and colons and semi-colons, lingering his thoughts across the page.

Whatever level of consciousness Agee existed, I could not hang with him for any more than a couple of sentences, as I would fall off the page and have to find my way back into the scene. Where was I? You get the picture...

Agee also uses parenthesis and colons, often not giving his parenthesis a mate: (This struck me as rather unusual and often, cold and detached--more like a voyeur. Did he fabricate his own method of communication using punctuation or was this being done elsewhere at the time? I felt left out of his thoughts when he did this, like when two people are communicating via sign language and you can't make out a word they're saying. Was he doing this in a way to urge us to "think," to stretch beyond the ordinary conventions and try something on that is foreign and unfamiliar, like his subjects and their hardship? ... Read more

4. James Agee: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, Shorter Fiction (Library of America)
by James Agee
Hardcover: 818 Pages (2005-09-22)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931082812
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A passionate literary innovator, eloquent in language and uncompromising in his social observation and his pursuit of emotional truth, James Agee (1909- 1955) excelled as novelist, critic, journalist, and screenwriter. In his brief, often turbulent life, he left enduring evidence of his unwavering intensity, observant eye, and sometimes savage wit.

This volume collects his fiction along with his extraordinary experiment in what might be called prophetic journalism, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), a collaboration with photographer Walker Evans that began as an assignment from Fortune magazine to report on the lives of Alabama sharecroppers, and that expanded into a vast and unique mix of reporting, poetic meditation, and anguished self-revelation that Agee described as "an effort in human actuality." A 64-page photo insert reproduces Evans's now iconic photographs from the expanded 1960 edition.

A Death in the Family, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that he worked on for over a decade and that was published posthumously in 1957, re-creates in stunningly evocative prose Agee's childhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the upheaval his family experienced after his father's death in a car accident when Agee was six years old. A whole world, with its sensory vividness and social constraints, comes to life in this child's-eye view of a few catastrophic days. It is presented here for the first time in a text with corrections based on Agee's manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.

This volume also includes The Morning Watch (1951), an autobiographical novella that reflects Agee's deep involvement with religious questions, and three short stories including the remarkable allegory "A Mother's Tale." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Walker Evans Iconic Photos Seem Missing
I may be [hope I am] mistaken here but as no mention is made of them it would seem that the scores of Evans photos which accounted for a good half of this America Classic's fame have been deleated, which would make this a ClassicComics trashing of the work.
What next?an edition of the Bible retaining all the "action" bits, omitting "all the dull stuff"

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Classic
This recently reissued collecton of Agee's work includes the brilliant, touching photos of Walker Evans with James Agee, photos made during the Depression Era of the 'thirties. Agee's writings are true Americana, his prose flows and the reader is made a part of the families about which he writes. This compilation belongs in the library of anyone concerned with human feelings in times of hurtin', hunger, and need. If you lived through the time,as I did, you will know it again through Agee's superb reflections on it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rich Reading Experience
Lately, I find myself returning to literature written before I was born (1956).When I saw the review of LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN in THE NEW YORKER, I became instantly convinced that I should purchase it.I'd known Agee's work since I was 13, when I first read DEATH IN THE FAMILY.I belonged to the Scholastic Book Club and every month my mother gave me change out of her the bottom of her purse so I could buy the books I had faithfully marked on my order form.I was haunted by this book as a teen, and I remain haunted still.I will always believe that few American writers ever achieved anything comparable to the beginning of DEATH IN THE FAMILY, a short italicized introduction which begins:"We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child."Agee's sensory details throughout DEATH amaze.Another stunning passage reads:"Supper was at six and was over by half past.There was still daylight, shining softly and with a tarnish, like the lining of a shell;"I could go on, because every page of this book is a treasure.But I would like to turn my attention to LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, which I had never read until now.

I will preface my remarks by saying that I am a writer currently very interested in the distinction between fiction and non-fiction writing.Agee addresses this issue by saying:"In a novel, a house or person has his meaning, his existence, entirely through the writer.Here, a house or a person has only the most limited of his meaning through me:his true meaning is much huger."It's perhaps this interest of mine in the craft of writing itself that has made FAMOUS MEN so fascinating to me.

Another thing:In the beginning pages, Agee writes with absolute humility towards his own writing and his subject matter.This was stunning to me, because I've also read Agee's movie reviews, and in those writings Agee is witty, merciless, honest, and very confident in his own opinion.In short, they are some of the best movie reviews I have ever read.However, FAMOUS MEN is another kind of writing altogether. As Agee admits, his efforts to capture his subject matter through words were a failure.Words are inefficient, inadequate in matters so huge. He wrote:"If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here.It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and of excrement."

That FAMOUS MEN is not more popular does not surprise me, nor was Agee surprised, I think, when the book got bad reviews and suffered poor sales.FAMOUS MEN, I think, is not the sort of book that would ever gain wide acceptance.It is a flawed masterpiece that takes a lot of work to absorb, but well worth the effort.

I don't know the extent to which Agee may have been devastated, nonetheless, at the way America turned its back on his masterpiece.I do know that Agee seemed to suggest in the early pages of FAMOUS MEN that the worst thing that can happen to any artist is mass acceptance.Perhaps mass acceptance is something the writer both wants and fears; I don't know.But Agee does say in FAMOUS MEN that he felt that as soon as, say, Beethoven's music is used as a form of relaxation or as a background to the mundane activities human beings inevitably become so wrapped up in, then the music has lost its vitality. That is why Agee suggests:

"Get a radio or a phonograph capable of the most extreme loudness possible, and sit down to listen to a performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony or of Schubert's C-Major Symphony.But I don't mean just sit down and listen.I mean this:Turn it on as loud as you can get it.Then get down onto floor and jam your ear as close into the loudspeaker as you can get it and stay there, breathing as lightly as possible, and not moving, and neither eating nor smoking nor drinking.Concentrate everything you can into your hearing and into your body.You won't hear it nicely.If it hurts you, be glad of it."

The same might be said for FAMOUS MEN.You can't read it as you would some other books, even DEATH IN THE FAMILY, which has a nice and clean chronological structure.You have to really pay attention when you read FAMOUS MEN.If you concentrate, you will hear FAMOUS MEN in your whole body.And if it hurts you, you will be glad.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked-Writer
Let me be clear... I've not read the present volume though I've read the individual books collected in it years ago. "A Death in the Family" remains vivid in my memory, depite almost 30 years since I last read it, and "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" is an absolute classic.

Though I have not yet received the LOA edition, I was compelled to add a review if only to counter the first reviewer here who is intent on seeing only ideology rather than the writing. If the work is looked at without the rose-colored glasses of (conservative) political correctness, you'll find there is an amazing writer and thinker behind the words.

Just read the works for yourself, not through an ideological smokescreen.

2-0 out of 5 stars Let Us Now Reexamine Famous Men
Agee was a bleeding-heart to end all bleeding-hearts, and would that he had!Like most members of the genus, his life and work were compromised by posturing, mawkishness and complacency in anguish.The gush of his prose--the hemorrhaging of that bleeding heart--is deeply and cloyingly purple. His endless rhapsodies betray a stubborn adolescence that will delight those who see an artist as a perpetual kid and repel those who don't.

Immense suffusions of tenderness are not the most helpful or respectful response to fellow human beings, and they signal an obsession with one's own feelings instead of their ostensible object.In this regard, one notes that Agee's tenderness did not prevent him from engaging in serial adulteries and enforced threesomes, devoting his life to personal fulfillment rather than self-denying altruism, and indulging himself to death by the age of 45.Of course Agee felt guilty about all this (his writing fairly reeks of a rotting conscience), but he saw his guilt as a reassuring index of purity, like the parishioner who sees confession and absolution as a license to go on sinning.

In any case, Agee's tenderness was reserved for the disadvantaged.The obverse of this solicitude was an affected brutality of reference to just about everyone else.This tough-talking pose, which has not worn well, assumed a moral superiority that the record does not bear out.

Art and morality are not the same thing, but Agee thought they were, and this confusion permeates his work.Again and again he makes moral claims upon us which he thinks that his aesthetic project will validate.It does nothing of the kind: it merely aestheticizes.

What did Agee actually do for the Gudgers, Woods and Ricketts other than make the hearts of his readers bleed for them in as transient a fashion as his own?In one respect, at least, he did more harm than good.He over-idealized "Louise Gudger" to such a degree that he left her with a permanent sense of failure.Unable to reconcile Agee's fantasy portrait with the reality of her ordinary self, she finally committed suicide--further proof that sentimentality can be pernicious as well as meretricious.

Agee did possess extraordinary powers of lyric observation, and a sharp mind when he wanted to use it; but aching sensitivity, metastasizing into ecstatic intoxication, tended to distort his vision, soften his rigor and infantilize his voice.He has his devoted followers, or rather his cultists, but one doubts that his place in the canon is as secure or exalted as they might wish, or as this Library of America volume would suggest. ... Read more

5. Letters of James Agee to Father Flye
by James Agee
 Hardcover: 267 Pages (1990-01)
list price: US$32.00 -- used & new: US$27.36
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Asin: 0877973016
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars A Life's Letters Framing an American Dialectic of Conscience
James Agee is now largely forgotten outside of film studies, but he remains an impressive writer by any standards and everything he touched conveys his particularly acute commitment and wide-ranging ambitions.
This collection of letters, first published in 1962, trace a remarkable, long (nearly 30 years long) involved correspondence between Agee and a sympathetic Father Flye, met when Agee was not yet 16. Beginning with a letter written at fifteen in 1925, the letters run right up to May 1955 at Agee's death.
Agee met Father Flye when he showed up at St. Andrew's School, still deeply effected by the loss of his father two years previously, and maintained a respectful attachment and affection to the Father and his family throughout his life. Agee wrote about his own father's death in A Death in the Family: A Novel and the story reminds us of the depth of the loss and how it shaped the young Rufus Agee on first meeting with Father Flye. This was before Agee dropped the hick nomenclature of his first name for the far more acceptable and urban James. Following a summer trip to Europe in 1925 with Father Flye, Agee's ambitious side found an increasing confidence, and he soon is reading widely in a whole range of literature; poetry, books in translation, critism, contemporary novels. It's clear Flye's impact on Agee remained a touchstone throughout his life, and the letters act as a sort of restorative and re-establishment to the writer as he thinks through his artistic responses to the world around him.

Agee was a challenging high-toned soul, and his unbridled personality is set off by Father Flye's settled, more soft-keyed Philosophy of Religion. Their back and forth interaction of ideas permeates these letters, with the secure Catholicism of Father Flye balancing the intense investiture of worldiness and doubt making up the core of Agee's life's purpose. Anyone appreciating Agee's film criticism will find these personal letters filled with the same probing mind, a searching multi-faceted intelligence that seems fascinated by practically every aspect of life, from top to bottom.

There is an introduction by Father Flye, who explains why his letters, save for a couple special cases, are not included. (Most were lost by Agee, or at least, they weren't available or found when the book was first published.) While these letters represent a stiking synopsis/overivew of Agee's thinking over his entire adult life, as well as the ongoing philosophic dialog between the two men, there remains much much more to James Agee as correspondent, and it is hoped a larger edition of letters will eventually be released.
Note: F.Scott Fitzgerald had a similar connection, initially, with Father Sigourney Fay, as can be found in his letters. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters: A New Collection Edited and Annotated by Matthew J. Bruccoli

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for any aspiring writer
I think James Agee is one of the finest authors in American history, so don't expect this review to be objective.
That said, to read James Agee, is to become obsessed by Agee, and to feel an extreme kinship with him such as few other authors could ever inspire.
"Letters of James Agee to Father Flye" is not a perfect book, but it is a magnificent one, full of beautifully expressed thoughts on writing, the writing life, spiritual belief, intellectual honesty, family, and success.I found myself frequently underlining passages in this book, talking about to everyone who would listen, and feeling a strong feeling about it that I can only compare with being young and smitten and with eating really good red chile--in other words, with being in love.I love this book.I love James Agee.
Any fan of his could read and enjoy this, as could any fan of good writing, but I believe that writers especially would benefit from his thoughts on becoming both a good person and being a good writer, on the main goals of writing---to discover a truth and to express that truth as clearly as possible---and on avoiding artificiality.
His rant against "smug safeplaying" in writing is worth the cost of the book just by itself.
The book's faults, I thought, lay in the latter portion in which he and Father Flye wrote back and forth to each other in verse, for weeks, and which got a bit tedious, and in some of Father Flye's footnotes and letters of his own which I think should not have been included.
Father Flye, by the way, was Agee's childhood priest, and a good friend of his, and the two wrote sporadic letters back and forth to each other for most of Agee's adult life.
Robert Phelps's introduction to this collection is well-written, and the book also offers a nice, if peripheral, portrait of Joel Agee, James's son who went on to become a well-known writer himself.
Anyone who read and loved "A Death in the Family" would enjoy Agee's writing about his father's death here.And anyone who read and enjoyed "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" would enjoy reading about Agee's time researching that book in the Deep South and his difficulty in writing it.
This is a highly recommended book.To me, my feelings for it are almost beyond words, and I'm sure I will read it again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty-ful!
Amazing. James Agee's place in American literature is set. He shines! ... Read more

6. A Death in the Family: A Restoration of the Author's Text (Collected Works of James Agee)
Hardcover: 615 Pages (2007-12-30)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$39.96
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Asin: 1572335947
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7. A Death in the Family (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
by James Agee
Paperback: 318 Pages (1969)
-- used & new: US$12.95
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Asin: B000EFBAHI
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A powerful, moving story of a universal human situation. It tells of a loving and closely-knit family and of their great courage when tragedy changes senselessly and suddenly the lives of those who are left behind. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Reads Like A Great Play [T][99]
Often books lose me when they primarily delve with introspection of depression.This book hovers around the extremely unexpected death of a father, brother, son and husband. It is full of depression.

Written during the author's twilight years, and posthumously published a few years after his death, the reader must think that the author wondered about the effect his own life would have upon those around him, and then transcribed those thoughts in the detailed folds amid this novel.

Often published as a playwright, this author extremely well places the language of the various affected parties with their various points of view of the tragedy which touches them all in very different ways.Many passages are laden with long back-and-forth discourse between parties in which they discuss what to do, how could such a thing happen, and like topics of when such unexpected but common events occur.

The decedent's brother is something of a yokel whose dialogue reminds me of Jeeter Lester of Tobacco Road. The wife is typically civil for a woman of this time - early 20th century.But, my favorite dialogue was when the young son discusses what happens, or even what happens between he and the bullies.The innocence of the child is reminiscent to the great dialogues in Call It Sleep.

This is not full of great story about a great or even ordinary man.It is about people's responses to an unfortunate event, and shows how contrasting the views and responses can be by people who are of the same cloth. It shows us how family can be tremendously different in so many other respects.
... Read more

by James Agee
 Paperback: 217 Pages (1963)

Asin: B001AEF8T8
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9. Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment on the Movies (Modern Library the Movies)
by James Agee
Paperback: 496 Pages (2000-03-07)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$976.98
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Asin: 0375755292
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"In my opinion, [Agee's] column is the most remarkable regular event in American journalism today."--W. H. Auden

James Agee was passionately involved with the movies throughout his life. A master of both fiction and nonfiction, he wrote about film in clean, smart prose as the reviewer for Time magazine and as a columnist for The Nation. Agee was particularly perceptive about the work of his friend John Huston and recognized the artistic merit of certain B films such as The Curse of the Cat People and other movies produced by Val Lewton. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Master Writes His Love
James Agee was a great writer (his book about the Dust Bowl is a classic).He continued to be a brilliant writer in his film reviews and his scripts.Thank you, Modern Library, for returning these collections of writing to us.They are wonderful to read and they make you think!

5-0 out of 5 stars He created serious film criticism
I still have my first edition copy of Agee on Film.

A production on the stage is seen once and then is gone forever. Curiously, despite the fact that a film can be viewed repeatedly, once upon a time revivals were rare, and most audiences saw a film once, talked about it, then forgot about it.

Even the film studios only half-heartedly treated their products as permanent, allowing many of them to deteriorate irretrievably and others nearly so (eventually giving rise to an entire industry devoted to film restoration).

Films were given a new life with the advent of television. Growing up on old movies on the tube in the 1950s, I found that repeated viewing of the same film could be a rich experience, and nothing enhanced this experience more than the appearance in the early 1960s of Agee on Film.

Agee took film seriously as a cultural experience, a molder of public opinion, a tool that might be useful or dangerous. Just how much he differs from mainstream reviewers who regarded the movies primarily as entertainment can be seen in the two different sets of reviews in this book.

His reviews in the liberal The Nation are extended analyses of the films and the sensibilities of the filmmakers, withering critiques of the limitations of the studio system, and manifestos on how good films could have been made better. Agee interpolates in his reviews his opinions about everything: The War (WWII, of course), politics, race, education, religion, psychology, philosophy ... the list goes on.

In contrast, his reviews for Time, constrained by that magazine's conservatism, are truncated and absent the depth andbite that distinguishes Agee from all other critics. His beautiful use of language keeps him afloat, but were it not for The Nation, I doubt Agee would have the reputation of Greatest Film Critic of All Time.

Agee on Film was originally in two volumes. The first was the current book. The second was a collection of Agee's own screenplays, including the classic The Night of the Hunter; Noa Noa, a fascinating teleplay about Gaugin (very different from Maughams' The Moon and Sixpence); and his magnificent adaptation of the The African Queen. Thus, he was able, unlike most critics, and with admirable results, to put his pen where his critique was.

James Agee almost single-handedly popularized the appreciation of film as an art form. The writing in this book is how he did it.

5-0 out of 5 stars James Agee, an inspiring critic
Ever wonder what causes a movie reviewer to *become* a movie reviewer? When I was a ten-year-old kid just getting into classic movie comedies, I went to the library and checked out the book AGEE ON FILM solely because it had references to Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields. Thus was my introduction to high-quality film criticism.

James Agee made his reputation writing sterling movie reviews for Time and The Nation magazines in the 1940's. Among other glories, he wrote a much-heralded essay titled "Comedy's Greatest Era" that helped to bring silent-comedy icons (most notably Harry Langdon) out of mothballs and caused them to be re-viewed and discussed seriously among film historians.He later went on to work on the screenplays of a couple of gems titled The African Queen and Night of the Hunter.

Unfortunately, many people who regard the critics Pauline Kael and Stanley Kauffmann have either forgotten Agee's work entirely or have assigned his own work to mothballs. But among the faithful are film director Martin Scorsese, who serves as editor of the "Modern Library: The Movies" series of film books. The series has recently reissued the AGEE ON FILM book, and re-reading Agee's work (or reading it for the first time, if you're lucky enough) proves that film criticism can make for reading material as compelling as any fictional novel.

Agee passes the acid test for any film critic: Even if you don't agree with him, his writing is so lively that you can't help enjoying it. His work ranges from three separate columns (three weeks' worth, in print terms) to Chaplin's much-maligned (at the time) MONSIEUR VERDOUX, to the most concise, funniest review ever: Reviewing a musical potboiler titled YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME, Agee replied in four simple words, "That's what *you* think."

If you want to see what high-caliber movie criticism meant in the pre-Siskel & Ebert days, engross yourself in this sprawling book. It'll make you appreciate the decades before every newspaper, newsletter, and Internet site had its own minor-league deconstructionist of Hollywood blockbusters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Resurrected Film Study
James Agee was short for this world, having died in his mid 40s.In that span of time he wrote a famous book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and a couple of classic screenplays, AFRICAN QUEEN and NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.This collection of magazine film reviews and essays is in many ways the leftover part of his work, and yet it feels like enough to make a reputation on.His reviews span just one decade, the 1940s.Many of them tackle foreign films that may be unavailable for all I know.

Interesting to me is that he spends three weeks discussing Chaplin's MONSIEUR VERDOUX, which is a most unusual movie and mostly forgotten today.This might be because he saw it as his only chance to write a poignant piece on the greatest living film artist, or it may be because he identified with the plight of mankind theme that Chaplin was reaching for.You can pick another reason, yourself, but it was a bold decision, because most critics panned the film (according to him) and most readers probably couldn't even see the movie in their small towns.It was as if he knew he would be writing for posterity.Like all critics, he cultivated his darlings.He saw much in the work of John Huston and was very skillful in his sizing up of TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.I was impressed that he predicted the all-time classic nature of the film, but also understood the studio system gimmicks that took away from the genius.

You don't have to be literary minded like W. H. Auden to enjoy this book.You'll like it, if you like movies.

5-0 out of 5 stars More than we ever deserved . . .
James Agee wrote film criticism in America at a time when the American film industry hardly deserved his attention.His celebrations of silent film comedy, of Preston Sturges, of John Huston [for whom he later wrotethe script for The African Queen], and of the handful of worthy foreignfilms that he managed to see are what make this volume worth reading. Besides Agee's beautiful prose and above all his compassion. Interestingly, Agee was a fan of Frank Capra's comedies (It Happened OneNight) and bemoaned the director's decent into serious social films (MrSmith Goes To Washington, Meet John Doe).His negative review of It's aWonderful Life, which has never been in print since it appeared in 1946,reveals the extent to which Agee was perhaps too far ahead of his time, andeven of ours. ... Read more

10. James Agee: Selected Poems (American Poets Project)
by James Agee
Hardcover: 200 Pages (2008-10-02)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$9.55
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Asin: 1598530321
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Better known for writing in a variety of other genres, James Agee always thought of himself as essentially a poet. Winner of the Yale Younger Poets competition in 1934 for Permit Me Voyage, Agee was, in the words of editor Andrew Hudgins, “as restless in his poetry as he was later in his prose, exhibiting a variety . . . that we expect from the protean mind that excelled in so many different kinds of writing.” Ranging from intense religious sonnets to lyrics for musical comedy, Agee’s verse takes us into the heart of his unique genius, what Robert Fitzgerald called his “sense of being . . . a raging awareness of the sensory field in depth and in detail.” ... Read more

11. James Agee: A Life
by Laurence Bergreen
 Paperback: 467 Pages (1985-07-02)
list price: US$8.95
Isbn: 0140080643
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Goods and the Bads
A biography of the American journalist, novelist, and screenwriter James Agee.

The Good:
This book is a solidly written account of James Agee's life from his youngest days to his infamously early death of a heart attack in the 1950s.I've been fanatical about Agee since I read _Let Us Now Praise Famous Men_, and this book is a great read for anyone who's interested in his works but unfamiliar with the life of the man himself.I devoured this biography.

The Bad:
Two things come to mind.The first and most relevant is that Bergreen draws on Agee's own writing (in _Let Us Now Praise Famous Men_, _A Death in the Family_, and other books) to flesh out his depiction of Agee's life.It's a bit disconcerting to find quotes that supposedly describe Agee's fictional characters applied to the author's life as if taken directly from a non-fiction source.Granted, Agee's novels were little more than dressed-up autobiographies, but it's hard to shake the feeling that Bergreen shouldn't be quoting them directly as if they were unequivocal truth.
Secondly, for someone who's come to admire Agee for his extraordinary prose, it can be a bit of a shock to discover that he was just a mere mortal, and a pretty flawed one at that.To focus only on the negatives in the book would give us a portrait of Agee as a self-obsessed alcoholic incapable of restraining his puerile sexual urges, causing untold damages to his relationships with his friends and family.Of course Bergreen is a very fair biographer and we don't only get this impression, but it's still somewhat difficult to imagine the man described acted as the vessel for the literary legacy that outlived him.

The Verdict:
Agee: A Life is a wonderfully written biography of the flawed genius who was James Agee.The photographs are a great addition, as they allow the reader to look over the friends and the various women who passed through his life.Highly recommended for those who are interested in the inspirations for his work and the conditions under which Agee wrote his articles, novels and scripts.

4-0 out of 5 stars A very sad story
James Agee was a tremendously talented writer.And apparently a real drunk.This is a very sad and familiar story.Bergreen tells the story well, one of those tales that makes us wonder what in the world is going on inside our heads.On the other hand, one might say Agee simply had a rather commn disease (alcoholism) at a time when effective help was still hard to get.(He was 45 years old when he died of a heart attack in 1955.)
I read "Let us Now Praise Famous Men" when I was sixteen years old and it had a tremendous impact on me.It's a book to keep coming back to.Agee seemed so interested in the plight of others.It's a shame he didn't get the help that may have benefitted him.I look forward to reading Erik Wensberg's biography. ... Read more

12. Collected Poems of James Agee
by James Agee
 Paperback: Pages (1972-01-01)
list price: US$12.55 -- used & new: US$24.65
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Asin: 071450906X
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13. James Agee: Reconsiderations (Tenn Studies Literature)
by Michael A. Lofaro
 Paperback: 184 Pages (1995-03-28)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$12.00
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Asin: 087049886X
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14. Some Time in the Sun: The Hollywood Years of F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Nathanael West, Aldous Huxley and James Agee
by Tom Dardis
Paperback: 274 Pages (2004-08-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.87
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Asin: 0879101164
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars hollywood mythology
Tom Dardis' "Some Time In The Sun" surprisingly takes on some myths about the fate of some great writers who wound up in hollywood. Dardis makes it clear that he is a proponent of film as an art, and suggests that the movies influenced in some ways the writers who are considered. The myth is one of a lurid money obsessed hollywood being the bottom of the barrel, and its contribution to the destruction of the literary artists who got entangled with it. Dardis demonstrates that the writers in question were motivated by money, that is important, given that most of the time covered was during the Great Depression. The book considers realistically the writers' need to make a living and the movie industry which could pay them for writing. Filled with fascinating detail, Fitzgerald's attempt to produce a great screenplay (he never did), Faulkner's relation to Howard Hawkes, and West's toiling in the skuzzy part of Hollywood, saving his best for "Day of The Locust." The value of this book, I think, is to overturn the literary mythology that condemns the Hollywood film and the film industry, not uncritically or unrealistically, quite the contrary, but to throw light on the relation of these literary artists to that industry. ... Read more

15. New Critical Essays on James Agee and Walker Evans: Perspectives on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Hardcover: 204 Pages (2010-08-15)
list price: US$75.00 -- used & new: US$50.62
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Asin: 0230102921
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This timely reappraisal of Walker Evans and James Agee’s photo-textual collaboration Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1941 focuses on the interdisciplinary aspects of the book. It provides in-depth chapters on the book’s status as part imaginative fiction, documentary effort, ethnographic study, confessional writing, and modernist prose. Contributions range from chapters on Walker Evan’s photographs and their seminal role in representing the South, material on the journalistic and sociological context for Agee and Evans’s collaboration, their personal relationship and more. Taking into account such concepts as psychoanalysis, photography, cinema, ethnography, semiotics, journalism and the South, among other things, these essays constitute a long overdue and important endeavor within American Studies.

... Read more

16. American Silences: The Realism of James Agee, Walker Evans, and Edward Hopper
by Joseph Ward
Paperback: 247 Pages (2010-05-01)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$21.56
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Asin: 1412810973
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In American Silences, Joseph Anthony Ward offers a unique analysis of the use and effects of silence in modern American realistic art. Beginning with the nineteenth-century literature that laid the foundation for silence in art, he moves to a brief analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, showing how they, along with several other crucial works of twentieth-century American realism, incorporate the power of the silent into their expression without sacrificing the subjects and techniques of traditional realism.

Examining Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee’s commentary on the life of tenant farmers, documented with photographs by Walker Evans, Ward traces the book’s pattern of "silence, then silence disturbed by sound, and ultimately silence restored." Ward further supports his theory with a study of Agee’s A Death in the Family and Evans’ American Photographs. Ward sees Agee’s admiration of photography as a connection between the silence of the scenes he writes about and the silence of Evans’ photographs. The use of silence is perhaps even more obvious in the paintings of Edward Hopper. Although throughout the book Ward suggests both the positive and negative qualities of silence in art, Hopper’s paintings provide little in the way of postiveness.

For Ward, the art of silence is an art of extreme concentration that seeks essences rather than superficiality that nearly transcends realism itself. The theme of silence in American realism is a significant new one, but Ward’s interpretation of the prose and his analysis of the photographs and paintings, many of which are reproduced in this book, establish validity for art as the voice of silence.

... Read more

17. James Agee Rediscovered: The Journals for 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' and Other New Manuscripts
Hardcover: 488 Pages (2005-04-28)
list price: US$42.00 -- used & new: US$31.70
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Asin: 1572333553
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Excesses of Early Fame.
When I saw this newest book about Agee at the downtown library, I was (at first) relieved that Dr. Lofaro had used an innocuous title, not what he'd threatend at a public meeting I attended here in Knoxville some time ago.A recent one, AGEE AND CHAPLAIN, told things I really would rather not have known about his latter days.This one is purely documentary, using previously unpublished materials, but very heavily edited.I'm not a great fan of Agee, so I overlooked this fallacy; for those purists who hate change, it may be a different matter altogether.

"In 1988, the Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee purchased the papers of David McDowell, publisher and editor of ...A DEATH IN THE FAMILY."McDowell is the author of two volumes of AGEE ON FILM in 1958 and 1960.It was with much trepidation I put off perusing this volume.Now, I find it's just an interim, as Lofaro hasn't gotten around to descrecrating Agee's Pulitzer prize winning novel yet."The manuscript relating to A DEATH IN THE FAMILY and "John Carter" will be dealt with in subsequent works."I plan to skip it.

In 1992, Mr. Lofaro edited JAMES AGEE: RECONSIDERATIONS.He's no expert on Knoxville's "claim-to-fame" author, coming from Connecticutt.He just happend to be in the right place at the right time to use the plethora of "six hundred pages of mostly handwritten Agee manuscripts, three bound journals, two unpublished chapters of A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, and an extensive collection of poems and drafts of poetry [included in this book], particularly of "John Carter," Agee's unfinished Byronic epic."

The best thing about this book is the Chronology of Agee's short (but full) life and the few candid photos of him as a young man in the 30's in New York.In one of the journals, Agee wrote: "though I knew the south, the Tennessee mountain-city-valley aspects of it, I knew little or nothing about the cotton country."That is the focal point of his LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN written in part as a response to the 1937 YOU HAVE SEEN THEIR FACES by Erskine Caldwell and his wife, the photographer Margaret Bourke-White.

Other notables which caught my interest as explained in footnotes throughout, this one in particular:"Percival Lowell, astronomer and brother of poet Amy Lowell, wrote three books on Mars arguing that the planet's canals had been constructed by intelligent beings and devoted much of his career searching for "Planet X."When the ninth planet was discovered at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, it was named partially in his honor, the 'Pl' in 'Pluto' standing for his initials."

In addition to the obscure poems of this sensitive, asthetic author, "Notes on World History," and "Notes from backs of envelopes," there are letters -- personal letters which had been held in The Agee Trust.I'm sure it took much dilligence on the part of the doctoral student, Hugh Davis, to get this in shape and for Lofaro to do the final editing.

5-0 out of 5 stars background of Agee's writings seen in his journals
Drafts and fragments of James Agee's eclectic writings from the 1930s to near the end of his life in the 1950s--from the Depression to post-War United States--offer incomparable access to his eye which was the source for this writings, his note-taking habits, and the self-editing he engaged in. Such self-editing by Agee, or any other writer, not only evidences the concern with grammar and clarity of expression, but also with the author's moral sense, impulses, instinct for communication, and philosophy. The writings, many with print markings resembling or symbolizing changes made by Agee, are journal entries and drafts of poems, novels, essays, and writings such as scripts or treatments Agee did for Hollywood. Sixteen previously unpublished photographs by Walker Evans, including some of Agee, are also found in the volume; thus once again linking this famous photographer and author who together did the unforgettable portrayal of the Depression, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." ... Read more

18. Brooklyn Is: Southeast of the Island: Travel Notes
by James Agee
Hardcover: 64 Pages (2005-10-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.41
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Asin: 0823224929
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Product Description
For the first time in book form—a great writer’s classic celebration of the essence of Brooklyn.

Propulsive, lyrical, jazzy, and tender, its pitch-perfect descriptions endure even as Brooklyn changes; Agee’s essay is a New York classic. Resonant with the rhythms of Hart Crane, Walt Whitman, and Thomas Wolfe, it takes its place alongside Alfred Kazin’s "A Walker in the City" as a great writer’s love-song to Brooklyn and alongside E. B. White’s "Here Is New York" as an essential statement of the place so many call home. ... Read more

19. Irony in the Mind's Life: Essays on Novels by James Agee, Elizabeth Bowen, and George Eliot
by Robert Coles
 Paperback: 210 Pages (1978-10)
list price: US$4.95
Isbn: 0811206890
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

20. Agee Agonistes: Essays on the Life, Legend, and Works of James Agee
Hardcover: 334 Pages (2007-05-30)
list price: US$48.00 -- used & new: US$38.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1572335742
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

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