All the King's Men

Front Cover
Harcourt, 1946 - Fiction - 661 pages
57 Reviews
When All the King's Men was first published in 1946, Sinclair Lewis pronounced it "massive, impressive...one of our few national galleries of character." Diana Trilling, reviewing it for the Nation, wrote, "For sheer virtuosity, for the sustained drive of its prose, for the speed and the evenness of its pacing, for its precision of language...I doubt indeed whether it can be matched in American fiction." The Washington Post declared, "If the game of naming the Great American Novel is still being played anywhere, Warren's All the King's Men would easily make the final rounds."   Set in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character who resembles the real-life Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power. As relevant today as it was more than fifty years ago, All the King's Men is one of the classics of American literature.

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Warren's prose is elegant and lyrical. - Goodreads
Warren's writing is beautifully engaging. - Goodreads
This is American story telling at its finest. - Goodreads

Review: All the King's Men

User Review  - Lorraine Ray - Goodreads

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel opens with spectacular writing,which is both modern and fascinating. The pace interested me and I was enthused about the book, however, I have to say the plot ... Read full review

Review: All the King's Men: A Play

User Review  - John Freeman - Goodreads

Like a locomotive "All the King's Men" roared into my life, changed my view of the potential of fiction and burned the name Robert Penn Warren into my brain forever. A powerful story told in sparkling ... Read full review

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About the author (1946)

Robert Penn Warren, the first Poet Laureate of the United States, was an unusually versatile writer who tried his hand at almost every kind of literature. In all of these forms, he achieved recognition and distinction, but it is as a poet, critic, and novelist that he was most widely known. Writing almost always about his native South, Warren produced 10 novels and a collection of short stories, The Circus in the Attic and Other Stories (1948). By far the most successful of his novels is All the King's Men (1946), the story of a southern politician and demagogue named Willie Stark, which Warren based on the rise and fall of Huey Long. Warren was considered one of the most influential of the New Critics, whose influence on the teaching of literature in American schools and universities during the late 1940s and 1950s could scarcely be overestimated. Because All the King's Men seemed to be the very epitome of what a good work of literature should be in New Critical terms---a complicated but highly readable narrative filled with irony and ambiguity---the novel came to be used widely in courses on modern fiction. It won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Southern Authors Award in 1947. Warren's other novels are disappointing by comparison. Following the success of All the King's Men, however, Warren seemed to turn to more loosely told stories about dramatic and romantic subjects, such as the interracial theme of Band of Angels (1955) or the natural catastrophes that serve as the crisis background for The Cave (1959) and Flood: A Romance of Our Time (1964). Wilderness: A Tale of the Civil War (1961) is an allegory of a man's spiritual quest for truth about himself and the world. Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971), the story of a tragic love affair, seemed to mark a return to the tighter structure and more complex artistry of Warren's earlier novels, but A Place to Come To (1977), his last novel, in which an elderly and renowned scholar who seems to owe much to Warren himself looks back on his family's past in an effort to find the meaning of his life, struck some reviewers as a confused and tired work. Sometime midway through his career as a novelist it is as if Warren stopped thinking of himself as a southern writer in the tradition of William Faulkner and turned instead to Thomas Wolfe for inspiration. Although in retrospect that switch must be regretted, no one can deny the immense influence of Robert Penn Warren on modern letters. Warren's poetry is intellectual, rich in powerful images, and has its roots in the pre-Civil War South. He continued to write impressive poetry almost until the time of his death.

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