Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
1941. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941.
8vo, 471 pp. Publisher's black cloth, lettered in silver on backstrip, in dust jacket. Dust jacket chipped at top of spine. Very good.
§ First edition. Publisher’s complimentary copy, with enclosure slip. One of the most important 20th-century literary and photography books, an extended essay on rural poverty with the now-iconic photos of Walker Evans. In the summer of 1936, during the Great Depression, Agee and Evans spent eight weeks on assignment for Fortune magazine, living with three white sharecropper families in southern Alabama. Through interviews and photographs Agee and Evans created a moving document of the piercing misery and poverty of Depression-era south. Fortune chose not to publish the resulting article, and instead the material became this book. Though it was largely ignored on publication in 1941 and sold only 600 copies before being remaindered, its renown has since built steadily and it is now considered Agee’s masterpiece. It inspired Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land, President Jimmy Carter named it as his favorite book, and it was credited as a formative influence by David Simon, the journalist and creator of acclaimed television series The Wire. It is now placed among the greatest literary works of the 20th century by the New York School of Journalism and the New York Public Library. Item #125451