Boston / Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin / The Riverside Press, 1941. First Edition. Hardcover. First Printing of this tour de force of American photography and perennial classic of American journalism, a "highly experimental book, pushing the boundaries of the way documentary should treat the world." (Lionel Trilling, in the Kenyon Review, called it the "most important moral effort of our American generation.") Demy 8vo (205 x 144mm): ,xvi,471,pp, with 31 beautifully printed black & white full-page photographs by Walker Evans, "his only excursion into 'true' documentary—among the finest ever made." (Parr & Badger) Publisher's black cloth, spine lettered in silver; illustrated dust jacket, priced $3.50. A Fine copy, tightly bound and clean throughout; Near Fine or better jacket, head and toe of spine panel rubbed, with short tear and crease to bottom of front panel. A fresh, honest copy with no restoration. Parr & Badger I, p.144. Roth (101 Books), p. 108-09. Fine / Near Fine+. Item #BB2619
In July and August of 1936, Agee and Walker Evans traveled to the American South to research a story on sharecropping for Fortune magazine. Their assignment, according to Agee's Preface, was to produce a "photographic and verbal record of the daily living and environment of an average white family of tenant farmers." Throughout the book, "Agee writes with extraordinary moral passion and highly personal emotion. He considers the tenant families victims of a massive system of human injustice that is global in proportions. . . . In questioning his purposes, including the difficulty of ever really seeing into the heart of another, especially of those as different as the sharecroppers, Agee raises important questions about the aesthetic limitations of the literature of social consciousness that comprised a major genre in the 1930s and early 1940s. . . . The design of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men reflects the fierce independence and eccentricity of its youthful author. Book One consists of only three pages: a single page 'Preface' and two pages listing the 'Persons and Places' in the book. Book Two, over 400 pages in length, is divided into an elaborate 'Design,' including its own 'Preamble'; sections on tenant clothing, shelter, education, and work; an 'Intermission'; and other narrative, poetic, autobiographical and confessional passages. . . . The tour de force of this section, however, and perhaps of the book as a whole, is a short section on 'Overalls'. . . . In the 'delicate beauty' that the overalls take on with age and wear, Agee finds an appropriate image to represent the lives of the tenants as a whole." (Literary Encyclopedia) N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).