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Book Title: The Circus in the Attic and Other Stories|
The author of the book: Robert Penn Warren
ISBN 13: 9780156180023
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 678 KB
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Loaded: 1292 times
Reader ratings: 5.6
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: January 1st 1968
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The Circus in the Attic and Other Stories is a collection of stories by Robert Penn Warren. Warren is mostly known for his novel All The King's Men, which won him the Pullitzer Prize.
All of the stories in this book present a colorful picture of Southern Culture from the Post Civil War era to the Depression, both time periods that afflicted the South with profound poverty. Many of his stories focus on individual people inside that climate of poverty and reconstruction, which was occurring in the south. The stories are valuable for that attribute alone.
They are also stories that paint a portrait of a man's dreams and how they are shaped and impacted by his relationship with his family inside his community at specific epochs of time.
All the stories are from the viewpoint of a man who has aspirations that are usually defeated by a domineering mother or wife, often a faithless wife. Because this premise is built into the majority of the stories in this collection one gathers that perhaps they are based on the author's life.
The first story is Circus in the Attic. The protagonist expresses his dreams by secretly creating a tiny model circus in his attic while carrying on his mediocre life as a teacher, movie ticket taker, while writing his "great novel" that is never finished...and also caring for his sickly mother who takes decades to finally pass away.
When she does die, he marries a widow, and when her son goes off to war the man gains some notoriety in giving speeches supporting the war effort. In the end, the son is killed in the war, his wife is killed in a car with another man and our protagonist is left alone. He no longer even has his circus to comfort him because he sold the pieces off at auction for the war effort.
This story is the longest in the book, starting at the Civil War and ending with WWII. Through the years, we see, as the man ages, the Southern landscape changing dramatically as reconstruction and wars make their mark.
The other stories have similar themes, although some deal with poor white people living in the hills, others with towns folk, all from a Southern perspective, allowing the reader to gain insight into how the South survived the devastating effects of a lost war, years of poverty and grew out of the stump, so to speak.
The last story, Prime Leaf is the most frightening because of the evil it exposes in small town politics where not even family members are save from lynch mobs or each other.
If you are interested in the history of the South, plus the good writing of a man expressing his own struggles and heartbreak against personal demons, then you will enjoy reading this book.
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Read information about the authorRobert Penn Warren was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic, and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He won the Pulitzer in 1947 for his novel All the King's Men (1946) and won his subsequent Pulitzer Prizes for poetry in 1957 and then in 1979.
Warren was born on April 24, 1905, in Guthrie, Kentucky. He graduated from Clarksville High School in Tennessee, Vanderbilt University in 1925 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1926. Warren later attended Yale University and obtained his B. Litt. as a Rhodes Scholar from New College, Oxford, in England in 1930. That same year he began his teaching career at Southwestern College (now called Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He also taught at Vanderbilt University and LSU. In 1930, he married Emma Brescia; they later divorced in 1951. He then married Eleanor Clark in 1952. They had two children, Rosanna Phelps Warren (b. July 1953) and Gabriel Penn Warren (b. July 1955). Though his works strongly reflect Southern themes and mindset, Warren published his most famous work, All the King's Men, while a professor at The University of Minnesota and lived the latter part of his life in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Stratton, Vermont. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study in Italy during the rule of Benito Mussolini. He died on September 15, 1989, of complications from bone cancer.
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