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  • All the King's Men.
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  • All the King's Men (Warren);
  • Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men".
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The other plays, as post-novel writings, provide a forum for Warren to clarify his intentions in the novel. The editors' introduction to this collection reviews the composition history of the works and their relationship to the novel and to each other.

The best novels: No 67 – All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren () | Books | The Guardian

The new perspectives on Warren's writing presented in Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men": Three Stage Versions provide a glimpse into a creative mind struggling with a compelling story and offer readers another way of looking at this American classic. This book is an essential reference in Warren studies that will give students of All the King's Men another context from which to consider Warren's novel. Grimshaw, Jr. Perkins, represents an engaging and valuable contribution to Robert Penn Warren scholarship. Significant research opportunities will be provided with the first-time publication of the texts of Proud Flesh and Willie Stark: His Rise and Fall , together with the second-time publication of All the King's Men: A Play , in a volume that is expertly, indeed authoritatively edited and complete with an astute and illuminating introductory essay, careful documentary notes, and a meticulous consideration of textual emendations.

He addresses the novel's continuing relevance and interviews a cross-section of elected and appointed officials, as well as journalists, in Kentucky to explore how Warren's novel has influenced their work and approach to politics. By focusing on what Warren's novel has to say about power, populism, ethics, and the force of rhetoric, Cullick encourages readers to think about their own identities and responsibilities as American citizens.


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This volume promises to be not only an indispensable companion to All the King's Men but it also provides context and a new diverse set of perspectives from which to understand this seminal novel. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Institutional Login. The central character of Willie Stark often simply referred to as "the Boss" undergoes a radical transformation from an idealistic lawyer and weak gubernatorial candidate into a charismatic and extraordinarily powerful governor.

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett: All the King's Men

In achieving this office Stark comes to embrace various forms of corruption and builds an enormous political machine based on patronage and intimidation. His approach to politics earns him many enemies in the state legislature, but does not detract from his popular appeal among many of his constituents, who respond with enthusiasm to his fiery populist manner.

Stark's character is often thought to be inspired by the life of Huey P. Long , former governor of Louisiana and that state's U. Huey Long was at the zenith of his career when he was assassinated in ; just a year earlier, Robert Penn Warren had begun teaching at Louisiana State University. In his introduction to the Modern Library edition, Warren denied that the book should be read as either praise for Huey Long or praise for his assassination.

However, Warren did not deny that Long served as an influence or inspiration for Stark:. One of the unfortunate characteristics of our time is that the reception of a novel may depend on its journalistic relevance. It is a little graceless of me to call this characteristic unfortunate, and to quarrel with it, for certainly the journalistic relevance of All the King's Men had a good deal to do with what interest it evoked.

The 100 best novels: No 67 – All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)

This equation led, in different quarters, to quite contradictory interpretations of the novel. On one hand, there were those who took the thing to be a not-so-covert biography of, and apologia for, Senator Long, and the author to be not less than a base minion of the great man. There is really nothing to reply to this innocent boneheadedness or gospel-bit hysteria.

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As Louis Armstrong is reported to have said, there's some folks that, if they don't know, you can't tell 'em But on the other hand, there were those who took the thing to be a rousing declaration of democratic principles and a tract for the assassination of dictators. This view, though somewhat more congenial to my personal political views, was almost as wide of the mark.

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For better or worse, Willie Stark was not Huey Long. Willie [Stark] was only himself. My conception grew wider, but that element always remained, and Willie Stark remained, in one way, Willie Talos. In other words, Talos is the kind of doom that democracy may invite upon itself. The book, however, was never intended to be a book about politics.

Politics merely provided the framework story in which the deeper concerns, whatever their final significance, might work themselves out.

Jack Burden is the novel's narrator, a former student of history, newspaper columnist, and personal aide to Governor Willie Stark. His narrative is propelled in part by a fascination with the mystery of Stark's larger-than-life character, and equally by his struggle to discover some underlying principle to make sense of all that has happened. In narrating the story, Jack commingles his own personal story with the political story of Governor Stark. His telling of these two stories side by side creates a striking contrast between the personal and the impersonal.

While his wry, detached, often humorous tone suggests an attempt to stand apart from the other characters' passions and intrigues, the highly personal content of his narrative suggests an awareness that he cannot truthfully remove himself and his own history from the story of Willie Stark, because his own story has paralleled and helped shape the tragic outcome of Stark's story. Jack's overall character development might be roughly described as a journey away from an amoral perspective on human history as a chain of uncontrollable events, toward a belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all of history.

In other words, he might be said to trace a path from refusal to acceptance of personal responsibility. On the other hand, one defining trait that remains a constant throughout Jack's development is a passion for discovering the truth of history. That is what all of us historical researchers believe. And we love truth. Anne is Jack Burden's childhood sweetheart and the daughter of Willie Stark's political predecessor, Governor Stanton.

Many of the novel's passages recounting Jack's life story revolve around memories of his relationship with Anne. Like many of Jack's friends, Anne disapproves of Willie Stark. However, in the wake of a devastating revelation regarding one of her father's moral lapses, she has an affair with Stark.

Adam is a highly successful doctor, Anne Stanton's brother, and Jack Burden's childhood friend. Jack comes to view Adam Stanton as the polar opposite of Governor Stark, calling Adam "the man of idea" and Stark "the man of fact". The position initially strikes Adam as repugnant because of his revulsion to Stark's politics, but Jack and Anne ultimately persuade him to accept the invitation, essentially by removing his moral high ground. Adam's sense of violation as a result of his entanglement with Governor Stark proves violently tragic when he is informed by Lieutenant Governor Tiny Duffy that Stark has been sleeping with his sister.

Adam tells Anne, "he wouldn't be paid pimp to his sister's whore". His pride demolished, Adam finds the Governor at the Capitol building and shoots him.