“This is Robert Penn Warren’s best book. . . . Cruel sometimes, crude sometimes, obsessed sometimes, the book is always extraordinary: it does know, and knows sadly and tenderly, even. It is, in short, an event, a great one.”—Randall Jarrell, New York Times Book Review
The significantly revised version of Brother to Dragons appeared in 1979, twenty-six years after the original. It is, Warren wrote, “in some important senses, a new work.” Told in the distinct voices of characters long dead and now gathered at an unspecified place and time, this long poem recalls events leading to and resulting from the 1811 murder of a young slave by Thomas Jefferson’s nephew. “R.P.W.” is the narrator of the tale, whose poignant ending brings not only reconciliation among the ghostly figures but healing for Warren’s persona as well.
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was born in Guthrie, Kentucky, and attended Vanderbilt University, where he became a member of the Fugitive movement. An acclaimed novelist, poet, critic, and teacher, the author of dozens of books, he was a man of letters in the truest sense. He was the only writer ever to receive Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and poetry.
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