'All The King's Men' is Published

The summer fiction doldrums are over.

An exciting new novel is published today. It isn't a great novel or a completely finished work of art. It is as bumpy and uneven as a corduroy road, somewhat irresolute and confused in its approach to vital problems and not always convincing. Nevertheless, Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" is magnificently vital reading, a book so charged with dramatic tension it almost crackles with blue sparks, a book so drenched with fierce emotion, narrative pace and poetic imagery that its stature as a "readin' book," as some of its characters would call it, dwarfs that of most current publications. Here, my lords and ladies, is no book to curl up with in a hammock, but a book to read until 3 o'clock in the morning, a book to read on trains and subways, while waiting for street cars and appointments, while riding elevators or elephants.

All the King’s Men was fueled by its reputation as a scandalous roman à clef based upon the life and death of the flamboyant Louisiana politician Huey P. Long; high-decibel, operatic, shrewdly plotted as Oedipus Rex grafted onto a whodunit, Warren’s big, sprawling novel would seem to have been perfectly matched to its time. It was awarded a 1947 Pulitzer prize, and the 1949 screen adaptation was equally admired. Though Robert Penn Warren ranks somewhere beneath his coevals Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, in the bygone–best seller limbo of James Gould Cozzens and Edna Ferber, and seems to be more highly regarded at the present time as a poet than as a novelist, All the King’s Men has long been regarded as an American classic and has been continuously in print since 1946.