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Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989)

Author of All the King's Men

116+ Works 12,890 Members 170 Reviews 33 Favorited

About the Author

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 show more 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. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy Wikipedia.

Series

Works by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men (1946) 7,252 copies
Short Story Masterpieces (1954) — Editor — 674 copies
Understanding Poetry (1938) 363 copies
A Place to Come To (1977) 333 copies
Remember the Alamo! (1958) 277 copies
World Enough and Time (1950) 267 copies
Band of Angels (1955) 259 copies
Wilderness (1961) 168 copies
Flood (1960) 134 copies
The Legacy of the Civil War (1961) 131 copies
Night Rider (1939) 130 copies
Understanding Fiction (1943) 118 copies
The Cave (1959) 111 copies
Selected poems 1923-1975 (1976) 90 copies
An Approach to Literature (1939) 84 copies
At Heaven's Gate (1943) 82 copies
A Robert Penn Warren Reader (1987) 68 copies
Who Speaks for the Negro? (1965) 68 copies
Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971) 65 copies
Being Here: Poetry (1980) 61 copies
Rumor Verified: Poems (1981) 48 copies
New and Selected Essays (1989) 44 copies
Now and Then: Poems 1976-78 (1978) 39 copies
All the King's Men: A Play (1959) 38 copies
Randall Jarrell, 1914-1965 (1967) — Editor — 35 copies
60 Years of American Poetry (1996) 28 copies
Modern Rhetoric {unspecified} (1958) — Author & Editor — 28 copies
Selected Essays (1958) 25 copies
The Scope of Fiction (1960) — Author & Editor — 25 copies
Or Else - Poems 1968-74 (1974) 25 copies
Audubon, a vision (1969) 24 copies
Portrait Of A Father (1988) 19 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Third Edition} (1977) — Author & Editor — 19 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Fourth Edition} (1979) — Author & Editor — 18 copies
The Essential Melville (1987) 17 copies
The gods of Mount Olympus (1959) 13 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Shorter Third Edition} (1977) — Author & Editor — 12 copies
Promises: Poems 1954-1956 (1957) 12 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Shorter Edition} (1961) — Author & Editor — 12 copies
Stories from six authors (1960) — Contributor — 11 copies
A New Southern Harvest (1957) 10 copies
Modern Rhetoric {First Edition} (1949) — Author & Editor — 7 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Second Edition} (1958) — Author & Editor — 6 copies
La Grande Forêt (2017) 3 copies
Amantha (1959) 3 copies
Blackberry Winter (1946) 2 copies
2007 2 copies
BAND OF ANGELS (1955) 1 copy
Six poems 1 copy
Two Poems 1 copy
La caverne 1 copy

Associated Works

A Farewell to Arms (1929) — Introduction, some editions — 22,206 copies
The Sound and the Fury (1929) — Introduction, some editions — 17,120 copies
Nostromo (1904) — Introduction, some editions — 4,716 copies
The Best American Short Stories of the Century (2000) — Contributor — 1,549 copies
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1990) — Contributor — 746 copies
The World of the Short Story: A 20th Century Collection (1986) — Contributor — 459 copies
A Pocket Book of Modern Verse (1954) — Contributor, some editions — 441 copies
Critical Theory Since Plato (1971) — Contributor, some editions — 397 copies
The Granta Book of the American Short Story (1992) — Contributor — 368 copies
Coleridge's Poetry and Prose [Norton Critical Edition] (2003) — Contributor — 197 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 161 copies
A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry (1929) — Contributor — 128 copies
The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories (1991) — Contributor — 122 copies
The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997) — Contributor — 98 copies
Twentieth-Century American Poetry (1777) — Contributor — 96 copies
The Collected Stories of Caroline Gordon (1981) — Introduction, some editions — 80 copies
Baseball's Best Short Stories (1995) — Contributor — 79 copies
200 Years of Great American Short Stories (1975) — Contributor — 68 copies
All the King's Men [1949 film] (1949) — Novel — 67 copies
Who Owns America: A New Declaration of Independence (1970) — Contributor — 45 copies
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Contributor — 39 copies
Southern Dogs and Their People (2000) — Contributor — 39 copies
Partisan Review (1998) — Contributor, some editions — 33 copies
Birds in the Hand: Fiction and Poetry about Birds (2004) — Contributor — 32 copies
The Sun Also Rises / A Farewell to Arms / The Old Man and the Sea (1962) — Introduction, some editions — 32 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1972 (1972) — Contributor — 26 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1964 (1964) — Contributor — 24 copies
Selected Poems of Herman Melville (1991) — Editor — 23 copies
Praising It New: The Best of the New Criticism (2008) — Contributor — 23 copies
A Good Man: Fathers and Sons in Poetry and Prose (1993) — Contributor — 20 copies
A Portrait of Southern Writers: Photographs (2000) — Contributor — 13 copies
Writer to Writer: Readings on the Craft of Writing (1966) — Contributor — 8 copies
Men and Women: The Poetry of Love (1970) — Contributor — 8 copies
Various Temptations (1948) — Contributor — 7 copies
Perspectives on poetry (1968) — Contributor — 7 copies
Selected Poems (1963) — Editor, some editions — 5 copies
A Long Fourth and Other Stories (1948) — Introduction, some editions — 4 copies
Robert Penn Warren's Brother to Dragons: A Discussion (1983) — Contributor — 2 copies

Tagged

1001 (150) 1001 books (154) 20th century (878) 20th century literature (173) American (799) American fiction (207) American literature (1,521) American South (162) anthology (656) classic (1,024) classic literature (165) classics (1,119) English literature (162) Faulkner (161) fiction (6,560) Folio Society (140) Hemingway (243) historical fiction (285) history (205) Italy (316) Library of America (134) literature (1,596) modernism (253) non-fiction (149) novel (1,281) own (209) owned (134) poetry (1,336) politics (373) read (500) Roman (139) romance (170) short stories (616) southern (285) southern literature (254) to-read (2,419) unread (367) USA (261) war (490) WWI (724)

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1905-04-24
Date of death
1989-09-15
Burial location
Willis Cemetery, Stratton, Vermont, USA
Gender
male
Nationality
USA
Birthplace
Guthrie, Kentucky, USA
Place of death
Stratton, Vermont, USA
Places of residence
Guthrie, Kentucky, USA
Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
Stratton, Vermont, USA
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Education
Vanderbilt University (BA | 1925)
University of California, Berkeley ( [1926])
Yale University (1928)
Oxford University ( [1930])
Citizens Military Training Corp, Fort Knox, Kentucky
Clarksville High School, Clarksville, Tennessee (show all 7)
Guthrie School
Occupations
poet
novelist
short-story writer
playwright
literary critic
editor (show all 8)
publisher
professor
Relationships
Clark, Eleanor (wife)
Warren, Rosanna (daughter)
Brooks, Cleanth (friend)
Lytle, Andrew (friend)
Taylor, Peter Hillsman (friend)
Erskine, Albert (friend) (show all 10)
Davidson, Donald (teacher)
Jarrell, Randall (student)
Mims, Edwin (teacher)
Dew, Robb Forman (goddaughter)
Organizations
The Fugitives
The Agrarians
Fellowship of Southern Writers (charter member)
American Academy of Poets ( [1950])
American Academy of Poets ( [1972])
American Academy of Arts and Letters (1959) (show all 12)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1975)
American Philosophical Society (1952)
National Institute of Arts and Letters (1950)
Century Association (1958)
Modern Language Association
The Southern Review (co-founder ∙ editor-in-chief)
Awards and honors
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1944-1945)
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1986-1987)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980)
Bollingen Prize (1967)
Jefferson Lecture (1974)
Gold Medal for Poetry ( [1985]) (show all 27)
Emerson-Thoreau Medal (1975)
Distinguished Alumnus Award ( [1950])
National Arts Foundation Award (1968)
National Medal of Arts (1987)
National Medal of Literature (1970)
Founder's Medalist (1925)
Award for Distinction in Literature ( [1973])
Ten Best Teachers Award ( [1972])
Creative Arts Award ( [1984])
Shelley Memorial Award (1943)
MacArthur Prize (1981)
Wilma and Roswell Messing, Jr., Award ( [1977])
Phi Beta Kappa (1925)
Rhodes Scholar (1928-1930)
Guggenheim Fellowship
Warren-Brooks Award
Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities (Vanderbilt University)
English Committee of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College (1967-68)
U.S. Naval Academy (declined due to injury)
Only poet to have served twice as U.S. Poet Laureate
Short biography
Robert Penn Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He served twice as Poet Laureate of the United States.

Members

Reviews

This is literature of the finest sort, spoiled by a lack of editing. The book could have been half as long and twice as good.
One of the strengths of the book is its portrayal of minor characters and the squalor they inhabit. The jailer Munn Short, for example, tells a story which has no bearing on the novel but which lingers as a tour de force. Another strength is Warren's descriptions of landscape and nature, which are infused with his deep knowledge and appreciation. However - the book is somewhat spoiled by Warren's insistence on portraying Jeremiah Beaumont's inner thoughts, his prevarications, his tortured musings, his diary entries -- all in the name of showing Beaumont to be a man of ideas, and these ideas would prove to be incompatible with the world "made flesh". The last 150 pages were a real drag. In fact, I found myself searching to find a Reader's Digest Condensed version of the book, to no avail, but if ever a book could be made shorter (and better) this is the one. I still praise this book highly, but I was disappointed by all the telling, which overtook the showing. Show, don't tell.… (more)
 
Flagged
downstreamer | 8 other reviews | Feb 16, 2024 |
This is a book from my bucket list.

It's always a bit mind-boggling to read a book from a hundred years ago and recognize that nothing has really changed except fashion. It happened when I read [b:Arrowsmith|11389|Arrowsmith|Sinclair Lewis|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1328006651l/11389._SY75_.jpg|1446230] and realized that nothing has changed in the world of pharmaceuticals and physicians. All the King's Men lays out the idea that power and money is central to politics, and corrupts all politicians, no matter humble and full of good will they are in the beginning. Human nature doesn't change one bit. It's incredibly depressing.… (more)
 
Flagged
rabbit-stew | 127 other reviews | Dec 31, 2023 |
This is impressive, and it's clear why it won the Pulitzer for fiction. The prose flows beautifully, and the banter and schemes and relationships are captivating and infuriating
 
Flagged
KallieGrace | 127 other reviews | Nov 29, 2023 |
650 pages of poetry. I'm sure it is the masterpiece it is said to be, but for me it was a real slog.
 
Flagged
nogomu | 127 other reviews | Oct 19, 2023 |

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Statistics

Works
116
Also by
54
Members
12,890
Popularity
#1,815
Rating
3.9
Reviews
170
ISBNs
251
Languages
12
Favorited
33

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