Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren
New Beginnings and New Directions, 1953-1968
Volume four of the Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren covers a crucial time of personal and professional rejuvenation in Warren's life. During the fifteen-year period spanned by this correspondence, he completed Brother to Dragons; Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South; and Who Speaks for the Negro? As these titles suggest, these years were marked by Warren's immersion in American history and his maturing interest in race relations. They also saw his return to lyric poetry, after a ten-year hiatus, with the publication of the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection Promises. Along with seeing the completion of some of his most successful work, this period was a time of momentous change in Warren's life, including his move to Yale University; his marriage to his second wife, Eleanor; and the birth of his two children. As a chronicle of Warren's thoughts on his family, his work, his friends, the state of literary studies, and the culture at large, these letters are invaluable.
Unlike many writers, Warren rarely drafted his correspondence with future readers and scholars in mind; he typically saved his prepared statements about the human condition and the state of the world for his poetry, fiction, and social commentary. His letters offer a candid and personal glimpse of Warren's relationships as well as his personal views on literature, politics, and social trends. Their recipients include Ralph Ellison, Allen Tate, Saul Bellow, Robert Lowell, Eudora Welty, and Louis Rubin, as well as Warren's editors, reviewers, collaborators, and other friends.
Providing an unusually vivid and personal account of Warren's rich and fully realized life, these missives are equally revealing of his thoughts on the state of contemporary American culture during this dynamic time in American history.
James A. Perkins, professor emeritus of English and public relations at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, is the editor of The Cass Mastern Material: The Core of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. Together, Hendricks and Perkins have edited For the Record: A Robert Drake Reader; David Madden: A Writer for All Genres; and with William Bedford Clark and Randy Hendricks, volumes three through five of the Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren.
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.
Randy Hendricks is a professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of West Georgia. He is the author of Lonelier than God: Robert Penn Warren and the Southern Exile and a collection of short stories, The Twelfth Year and Other Times.
William Bedford Clark is a professor of English at Texas A&M University, the author of The American Vision of Robert Penn Warren, and the editor of volumes one and two of the Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren. He is also the general editor of volumes three through five.
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