Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
James Agee and Walker Evans
Violette Editions (2001, UK and Europe)
Designed by Peter B. Willberg
Hardback with dustjacket, 432 pages
plus 64-page photographic prologue
22.8 x 19 cm (9 x 7 ½ in)
Limited availability. Price on application
'A great book ... the most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation.' – Lionel Trilling
'Masterpiece.' – Newsweek
One of the New York Public Library's Books of the 20th Century
First published nearly 70 years ago – and out of print in the UK for more than 40 years – Let Us Now Praise Famous Men stands as an undisputed American Masterpiece, taking its place alongside works by Thoreau, Melville and Whitman. A stunning blend of prose and images, this classic offers at once an unforgettable portrait of three tenant families in the Deep South and a larger meditation on human dignity and the American soul.
In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out on an assignment for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. The result was an unsparing record of place, of the people who shaped the land, and the rhythm of their lives. Upon its first book publication in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was called intensely moving, unrelentingly honest.
It described a mode of life – and rural poverty – that was unthinkably remote and tragic to most Americans. Today it stands as a poetic tract for its time.
With the famous 64-page photographic prologue of Evans's stunning images, reproduced from archival negatives, this new British edition introduces the legendary author and photographer
to a new generation.
James Agee (1909–55) won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel A Death in the Family. He worked as a reporter and critic for Fortune, Time and The Nation and wrote for film and television. Agee's other books include a volume of poems, Permit Me Voyage, the novel The Morning Watch, and several collections of correspondence, film reviews and film scripts.
Walker Evans (1903–75) is best known for his striking Depression-era photographs. He served as editor for both Time and Fortune magazines and was a professor of graphic arts at Yale. His other well-known books include American Photographs and Message
from the Interior. The first major retrospective of Evans's work was organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2000.