Welcome to this website honoring the life and works of . . .

Robert Penn Warren

1905 - 1989

1905 - 1989

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An Annual of Robert Penn Warren Studies

Volume II


Published for

The Center For Robert Penn Warren Studies

Western Kentucky University

1 Big Red Way

Bowling Green, Kentucky  42101-3576

For information concerning submissions and other important information about this publication click here.



Volume II▬2002


Aaron Frankel, "Working in the Theater with Robert Penn Warren."

A major figure in the making of the contemporary American theater reminisces about his collaborations with Robert Penn Warren, documenting their relationship with previously unpublished correspondence and suggesting that Warren, had he written more for the stage, might well have had a shaping influence on the evolution of modern drama.

Noel Polk, "The Text of the 'Restored' Edition of All the King's Men."

All the King's Men appeared in 1946 in a text that had been changed in hundreds of ways by Harcourt Editors; cumulatively these editorial interventions changed the novel in serious ways, mostly in changing the character of the narrator, Jack Burden, and his relationship to the events he narrates. The 'restored' edition, published in 2001, indeed restores Warren's original text wherever it was possible, and so made available a text much closer to what Warren had written initially. This essay offers a general explanation of the differences between the two versions of All the King's Men, a detailed listing of some of the more important differences, and a brief explanation of why I chose one reading over another.

Bill McCarron and Paul Knoke, "From Gent to Gentil: Jed Tewksbury and the Function of Literary Allusion in A Place to Come To."

A Latin aficionado, medieval scholar, and college professor, protagonist Tewksbury struggles emotionally to sort through his often sordid past. In the process, his allusions to a French chante fable, Virgil's Aeneid, and Dante's Divine Comedy illuminate both his sinning and his awakening to the power of redemptive love.

Aimee Berger, "Le Silence du Bonheur and the House of Forgiveness: Space and Silence in Flood."

Katrin Meise reformulates Wittgensteins famous dictum--"What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence--in a way that is particularly germane to a reading of Warren's novel, Flood: "What we pass over in silence, we must speak about." Warren establishes a complex aesthetic that incorporates silence into the circuit of discourse, forcing characters to confront the limitations of language, even as they realize the redemptive power of telling a "true" story.

Steven D. Ealy, "'Ex Exciting Spiral': Robert Penn Warren on Race and Community."

Warrens contribution to I'll Take My Stand, "The Briar Patch," has been the subject of controversy from its beginning when Donald Davidson tried to exclude it from the collection on the grounds that it was too progressive. Later in life, Warren distanced himself from it by characterizing it as a defense of segregation. However, a closer reading of "The Briar Patch" reveals that Warren set such a high standard for "separate but equal" that he ultimately undermines that doctrine and prepares the way for his re-examination in Segregation and Who Speaks for the Negro?

C. Jason Smith, "Philosophers, Fools, and Kings: Notes on The Brothers Karamazov and All the King's Men."

A comparative analysis of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brother's Karamazov (1879-80) and Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men (1946) based on the archetypal characters found in the work of both authors. The Philosophers,  whose world-view is based in post-enlightenment reason, operate in a dialectical relationship with the Fools who interact with the world through faith. Culturally, the resolution of the dialectic between reason and faith yields the synthesis of the King who embodies reason and faith, the temporal and the eternal, in his position of god-given  power. However, both Dostoyevsky and Warren actively reject the social imperative towards Kingship as a dangerous, immoral myth and offer instead an alternate synthesis grounded in mutual responsibility and brotherly love.

Polly Detels, "From Fox to Hedgehog: Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men as a Gloss on Leo Tolstoy's View of History."

This essay explores Warren's All the King's Men as a figurative gloss on the discussion of human freedom and responsibility appearing in Leo Tolstoy's second epilogue to War and Peace. Isaiah Berlin's 1953 work on Tolstoy, The Fox and the Hedgehog, provides a theoretical framework for this analysis.

John K. Crane, "'Tough Talk in the Big Easy': Warren's Use of History and Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner."

On a 1968 panel, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, and William Styron discussed the use of historical fact in fiction. The audience vociferously held Warren's use in All the King's Men more valid than Styron's in The Confessions of Nat Turner. Two analogies with recent films seem to support that contention.

John Burt, "The Associative Style in Warren and Ashbery."

Robert Penn Warren and John Ashbery write out of different backgrounds and quite often appeal to different audiences, but each is a master of the "associative style." A comparative look at both poets is highly instructive and serves to deepen our appreciation of their art.

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