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Tobacco Road: A Novel (Brown Thrasher Books…
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Tobacco Road: A Novel (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.) (original 1932; edition 1995)

by Erskine Caldwell (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3114010,437 (3.38)99
Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will one day descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them. Caldwell's skillful use of dialect and his plain style make the book one of the best examples of literary naturalism in contemporary American fiction. The novel was adapted as a successful play in 1933.… (more)
Member:Dydee
Title:Tobacco Road: A Novel (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.)
Authors:Erskine Caldwell (Author)
Info:University of Georgia Press (1995), Edition: Revised ed., 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell (1932)

  1. 10
    God's Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 00
    Sanctuary by William Faulkner (SCPeterson)
  3. 00
    Such As Us: Southern Voices of the Thirties by Tom E. Terrill (kthomp25)
    kthomp25: "A very early experiment in the publication of oral history, it consisted of thirty-five life histories of sharecroppers, farmers, mill workers, townspeople, and the unemployed of the Southeast, selected from over a thousand such histories collected by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s."… (more)
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English (39)  Spanish (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Tired quickly of reading of po' white trash. ( )
  cwcoxjr | Sep 5, 2019 |
An odd caricature of folks with zero common sense. This story is over-the-top about the cycle of dysfunction and poverty. The odd mix of sex without any sense of its effect on others seems misplaced to me. I think the author was mixing metaphors. This is a strange, depressing, dark little story. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Wow. I didn't like this one at all. Too dark and depressing and cruel. ( )
  electrascaife | Jul 9, 2017 |
Boring and repetitive. It's like Flannery O'Connor but with brain damage. ( )
  beckyrenner | Dec 29, 2016 |
I'm trying to figure out what Caldwell's intentions were when he wrote this book. He appears to have made a cruel, insensitive, gross exaggeration that would only encourage prejudice against the poor by his readers. Supposedly Caldwell got upset when others found his story humorous so that was not his intention. (And frankly there was no humor to it, unless laughing at others makes you feel better about yourself.) How did this ever get published, let alone republished? Did people want to believe it was accurate to justify their hatred and lack of compassion for people who were different than themselves? I suspect the book tells us more about Mr. Caldwell than it does about the poor in the south. ( )
  Just1MoreBook | Nov 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erskine Caldwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baudisch, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coindreau, Maurice-EdgarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonason, OlovTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kristensen, Sven MøllerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martone, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sánchez, AtanasioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vázquez Rial, HoracioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my Father and Mother
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Lov Bensey trudged homeward through the deep white sand of the gully-washed tobacco road with a sack of winter turnips on his back.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will one day descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them. Caldwell's skillful use of dialect and his plain style make the book one of the best examples of literary naturalism in contemporary American fiction. The novel was adapted as a successful play in 1933.

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Book description
Tobacco Road, published by Charles Scribner and Sons in 1932, was Caldwell's third novel. It was inspired by the terrible poverty he witnessed as a young man growing up in the small east Georgia town of Wrens. His father, Ira Sylvester Caldwell, who was pastor of the local Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, was also an amateur sociologist and often took his son with him to observe some of the more destitute members of the rural community. Erskine Caldwell's sympathy for these people and his outrage at the conditions in which they lived were real, and his novel was meant to be a work of social protest. But he also refused to sentimentalize their poverty or to cast his characters as inherently noble in their sufferings, as so many other protest works did.

The novel's Lester family, headed by the shiftless patriarch Jeeter, both appall and intrigue readers with their gross sexuality, casual violence, selfishness, and overall lack of decency. Living as squatters on barren land that had once belonged to their more prosperous ancestors, the Lesters have come to represent in the American public's mind the degradation inherent in extreme poverty. That Caldwell also portrays them as often-comic figures further complicates the reader's response. Tobacco Road is a call to action, but it offers no easy answers and thus has generated intense debate both in and out of the South. Many southerners denounced the novel as exaggerated and needlessly cruel and even pornographic, an affront to the gentility of the region. Northern critics, however, tended to read the book as a serious indictment of a failed economic system in need of correction. Caldwell later explained that the book was not meant to represent the entire South, but for many this work confirmed demeaning southern stereotypes.
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