They follow these families and spy on them, writing about what they do, but throughout the book, the author a journalist tells about his ethical dilemma about this. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993 , 309. In addition to what some might call the excesses of description --- the exact shape and feel and color and texture of a pair of overalls take the better part of a page --- we have precise word-pictures of three families, their children, their houses, the rooms, the furniture, the walls, the chicken coops, the land, the land under the houses, the roofs of the houses, the feel of the sun, the heat in the kitchen, the dying trees, the dust, the withering crops. What is it, profound behind the outward windows of each one of you, beneath touch even of your own suspecting, drawn tightly back at bay against the backward wall and blackness of its prison cave, so that the eyes alone shine of their own angry glory, but the eyes of a trapped wild animal, or of a furious angel nailed to the ground by his wings, or however else one may faintly designate the human 'soul,' that which is angry, that which is wild, that which is untamable, that which is healthful and holy, that which is competent of all advantaging within hope of human dream, that which most marvelous and most precious to our knowledge and most extremely advanced upon futurity of all flowerings within the scope of creation is of all these the least destructible, the least corruptible, the most defenseless, the most easily and multitudinously wounded, frustrated, prisoned, and nailed into a cheating of itself: so situated in the universe that those three hours upon the cross are but a noble and too trivial an emblem how in each individual among most of the two billion now alive and in each successive instant of the existence of each existence not only human being but in him the tallest and most sanguine hope of godhead is in a billionate choiring and drone of pain of generations upon generations unceasingly crucified and is bringing forth crucifixions into their necessities and is each in the most casual of his life so measurelessly discredited, harmed, insulted, poisoned, cheated, as not all the wrath, compassion, intelligence, power of rectification in all the reach of the future shall in the least expiate or make one ounce more light: how, looking thus into your eyes and seeing thus, how each of you is a creature which has never in all time existed before and which shall never in all time exist again and which is not quite like any other and which has the grand stature and natural warmth of every other and whose existence is all measured upon a still mad and incurable time; how am I to speak of you as 'tenant' 'farmers,' as 'representatives' of your 'class,' as social integers in a criminal economy, or as individuals, fathers, wives, sons, daughters, and as my friends and as I 'know' you? More essentially, this is an independent inquiry into certain normal predicaments of human divinity. For example, when Agee describes the educational levels of the tenants, he avoids blanket characterizations of Alabama tenants as uneducated and ignorant. They are not labeled, and are all bound together at the front of the book, rather than being dispersed throughout. Walker Evans: a counter-spy traveling as a photographer.
It was written to please the author and not the reader. We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own. They simply present the families as they are, allowing the viewer to make up their own mind about what they are seeing with no explanation. The dignity which Evans left the Gudgers, the Woods, and the Ricketts stares the reader of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men straight in the eyes. In the hands of a lesser writer, these could be dumb beyond belief; in the hands of this poet --- for he is a poet, and a musician --- they often take surprising turns that pull one in. The efforts of Agee and Evans to present their subjects with dignity is indicative of a new way of looking at the world.
Readers uncomfortable with Let Us Now Praise Famous Men's refusal to fit into a traditional genre and Agee's frequent interruption of descriptive detail with streams of his consciousness have criticized the book as self-indulgent. Each of the participants in the book were assign false names in order to protect their privacy although their real names are attached to the photos which are now archived in the Library of Congress. The odor of woodsmoke, the fuel being again mainly pine, but in part also, hickory, oak, and cedar. Though Evans makes no attempt to make the tenants look like a middle-class family, they still exude an inherent human dignity. Auden, who wrote a glowing fan letter to the Nation in 1944. The photos themselves are stark black and white, immediately showing the utter poverty these people survived in, but also illustrating their strength, their dignity, and their Evans uses different camera techniques quite effectively throughout the book. You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.
These clear-cut presentations of the lifestyles of the poor reflect broader Victorian values. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and How the Other Half Lives address issues such as housing, work, and education while chronicling the lives of poor people. A passionate literary innovator, eloquent in language and uncompromising in his social observation and his pursuit of emotional truth, James Agee 1909-1955 excelled as novelist, critic, journalist, and screenwriter. So far, so good --- we know that bureau, and we have seen the likes of it. Essentially, Agee does not understand the issue of educating the sharecropper as a clearly defined problem with clearly defined solutions. Source: all quotes from James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families, with an introduction to the new edition by John Hersey Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988 Thanks for your article.
The methods that had been used to bring the economy out of a slump in the 1920s were simply not working anymore, and the casualties of depression were rapidly mounting in a frightening new world. With these two snapshot of dresser; snippet of aromas , we are there, in Hobe's Hill, Alabama, in the hot summer of 1936. The result is a collection of observations that tie together to serve as a far more impressionistic statement of the state of the union than a mere expressionistic documentation of facts. In 1932, when Agee started at Fortune, the economic downturn had made such jobs an especially coveted prize. Unlike many who wrote before them, Agee and Evans did not criticize and berate the tenants' lifestyles. Woven into Riis' work was the contention that Victorians had discovered the right way to live. The book is in its way a hypertext—arranged in ways for the reader to move across and within it, shifting time, event, impression, and voice.
We have to sit still and listen, to every sentence, every colon, every comma, every gesture. They are watching two birds, large and brightly colored, that cling together beak to beak with arched necks, dancing up and down, while their wings whir and they slash at each other viciously, rapidly, with their spurs. Both Agee and Evans' book and Roosevelt's New Deal, characterized by a humanist perspective, a willingness to experiment with new structural forms, and a deep self-consciousness of their objectives, invite evaluation. The original 1941 edition opened with 31 images captured by Evans with subsequent editions expanding to 64 photographs. The committee's startling report, issued in February of 1937, revealed that tenant farmers constituted half of the farmers in the South, almost a third of farmers in the North, and a fourth of Western farmers. There are pictures of empty general stores, failing businesses, and there are entire towns with no commerce or economy, because everyone is too poor to afford anything.
Roosevelt was elected to the presidency in 1932 because he recognized the need for an innovative approach to the U. When he was sixteen, Agee was sent to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, an elite boarding school that proved a culture clash for the unconventional teen. Like the Mississippi, the project overran its banks and the article never ran. James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939 , 144. With its heavy Biblical overtones, with its beautiful circular writing, with its poetry, and music --- it becomes a classic of American literature, as important in its eccentric way , as Winesburg, Ohio, Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Sound and the Fury, A Farewell to Arms. I also think that laptop computers are getting to be more and more popular right now, and now in many cases are the only form of computer used in a household. However, Victorians such as Riis would have confidently defined the flaws in the Alabama system of public education and then advocated reforms.
Later, despite a résumé that included a Harvard degree and positions at the top of national journalism, Agee retained a populist sympathy for the have-nots, embracing an aggressive brand of liberalism that sometimes compromised his professional aspirations. Yet they are not forgotten as Agee's story unfolds, for his descriptions of the individuals, the houses they live in, and the land they farm are so vivid as to draw the reader back to the photographs again and again, each time with a new layer of understanding. This, he wants us to know, is how we are to understand his work. It is a humbling lesson for any historian. Fortune was not unique in its concern for the tenant farmer; Roosevelt himself appointed a Committee on Farm Tenancy to investigate the situation of this segment of the nation's farming population. Instead, he assumes a more objective posture, mentioning the amount of formal education each character has received and the mental capabilities of each character.
Here, Agee describes the evening routine: Supper was at six and was over by half past. By 1940, the factors which constituted dignity or anything else could not be so easily defined. At one point, an exasperated Agee fantasized about shooting Luce. The opening sounds like stage direction, followed by a plot synopsis, as if Agee is writing a pitch for a movie project. As you come around the side of the barn, you hear a soft but violent fluttering of wings, an agitated hissing, a passionate exclaiming of low voices.