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Cotton Tenants: Three Families

by

Cotton Tenants: Three Families Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A re-discovered masterpiece of reporting by a literary icon and a celebrated photographer

In 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a four-hundred-page prose symphony about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama at the height of the Great Depression. The book shattered journalistic and literary conventions. Critic Lionel Trilling called it the “most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation.”

The origins of Agee and Evan's famous collaboration date back to an assignment for Fortune magazine, which sent them to Alabama in the summer of 1936 to report a story that was never published. Some have assumed that Fortune's editors shelved the story because of the unconventional style that marked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and for years the original report was lost.

But fifty years after Agee’s death, a trove of his manuscripts turned out to include a typescript labeled “Cotton Tenants.” Once examined, the pages made it clear that Agee had in fact written a masterly, 30,000-word report for Fortune.

Published here for the first time, and accompanied by thirty of Walker Evans’s historic photos, Cotton Tenants is an eloquent report of three families struggling through desperate times. Indeed, Agee’s dispatch remains relevant as one of the most honest explorations of poverty in America ever attempted and as a foundational document of long-form reporting. As the novelist Adam Haslett writes in an introduction, it is “a poet’s brief for the prosecution of economic and social injustice.”

Co-Published with The Baffler magazine

Synopsis:

JAMES AGEE (1909–55) was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was hired as a staff writer at Fortune in 1932. Two years later, his collection of poetry, Permit Me Voyage, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. His book about Alabama tenant farmers during the Great Depression, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, appeared in 1941. Agee was later renowned for his film criticism, which appeared regularly in The Nation and Time, and for co-writing the screenplays for The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter. He died two years before his major work of fiction, A Death in the Family, was published and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Photographer WALKER EVANS (1903–75) was on loan from the Resettlement Administration when he began collaborating with James Agee. He joined the staff of Time in 1945 and shortly afterward became an editor at Fortune, where he stayed for the next two decades. In 1964, he became a professor at the Yale University School of Art, teaching until his death in 1975.

ADAM HASLETT (introduction) is the author of Union Atlantic and You Are Not a Stranger Here.

JOHN SUMMERS (editor) is the editor in chief of The Baffler.

About the Author

US

Product Details

ISBN:
9781612193984
Author:
Agee, James
Publisher:
Melville House Publishing
Author:
Summers, John
Author:
Evans, Walker
Author:
Haslett, Adam
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
Great Depression
Subject:
great depression;alabama
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20140931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
7.53 x 5.57 x 0.5 in 0.8006 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Cotton Tenants: Three Families New Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Melville House Publishing - English 9781612193984 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , JAMES AGEE (1909–55) was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was hired as a staff writer at Fortune in 1932. Two years later, his collection of poetry, Permit Me Voyage, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. His book about Alabama tenant farmers during the Great Depression, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, appeared in 1941. Agee was later renowned for his film criticism, which appeared regularly in The Nation and Time, and for co-writing the screenplays for The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter. He died two years before his major work of fiction, A Death in the Family, was published and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Photographer WALKER EVANS (1903–75) was on loan from the Resettlement Administration when he began collaborating with James Agee. He joined the staff of Time in 1945 and shortly afterward became an editor at Fortune, where he stayed for the next two decades. In 1964, he became a professor at the Yale University School of Art, teaching until his death in 1975.

ADAM HASLETT (introduction) is the author of Union Atlantic and You Are Not a Stranger Here.

JOHN SUMMERS (editor) is the editor in chief of The Baffler.

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