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Hardcover Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road Book

ISBN: 067942931X

ISBN13: 9780679429319

Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

*Best Available: (missing dust jacket)

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Book Overview

A major new biography, Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road presents the fascinating life and times of a prolific and profoundly influential -- yet nearly forgotten -- figure in American literature. In the 1930S and '40s, Erskine Caldwell's impassioned work dealing with the Southern poor -- most notably, the novels Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre -- earned him wide critical acclaim. Although many Southerners reviled him for his brutal...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

The Establishment can destroy you...

For some time, I wondered why such an important chronicler of the uderprivileged people of the South ,who was recognized and read as comparable to Steinbeck,should be pushed aside to the point he is almost forgotten today.By the early 1960,s,between anthologies,novels,travelogues,and other nonfiction monographs,he had published thirty-eight books,and his domestic sales had reached 55 million copies.His works were translated into dozens of languages.He was among the world,s best selling authors.So,what happened? Miller,s book shows how he was really not part of the "system" .It was the millions of readers who liked his work;thc critics couldn't stand him. The critics and literary establishment won out and have pushed his work into obscurity...for now,anyway. I am surprised that the author Miller, is so young. One day with the help of people like him,Caldwell may well become known again. An excellent book if you want to know the whole story.


In the thirties critics acclaimed Erskine Caldwell as one of the most influential writers of his time. His books sold in the millions and his play, Tobacco Road (based on the novel), had an unprecedented record run across the nation. By the time the sixties emerged, Caldwell falls into obscurity, disdained by the critics and forgotten in the canon of southern literature. Caldwell's Icarus-like rise to fame and descent into obscurity is the catalyst which inspired Dan Miller to explore one of the south's most prolific writers. What was behind the man who was so passionate in his work yet ended up destroying his professional career, his marriages and his relationships with his children. The Journey from Tobacco Road takes a microscopic look at the forces which shaped and made Caldwell the writer that he is. Born of educated parents who were members of a fundamentalist presbyterian sect, we find a man full of contradictions. His parents had formal education. Their son never graduated from high school (or any school for that matter) and was a poor writer and reader. Their denomination, The Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church, was highly fundamental yet Caldwell's father had a great passion to confront the injustice of poor and Black people. His passion was transferred over to his son who became the extentsion of his cause for justice. You will come across layers of complexities of Erskine who was controlling in all of his relationships with his wives and daughters. His obsessive need for control extended itself into the lives of his children to the point of abuse. Yet despite these tendancies Caldwell reached the hearts and minds of his readers in his depiction of the southern poor. Miller has given the reader a revealing portrait of a man who was at the top of his literary popularity only to fall in obscurity. We are shown the elements of why this happened and can see that the same trap is set for writers who become popular but are spurned by the academic literary community. Caldwell's journey is an interesting one as he goes through the school of hard knocks only to rise a winner. Miller's biography is clear and concise. He doesn't put Caldwell on a pedestle but he reminds us this is an author who shouldn't be ignored. You will enjoy this biography. Miller's concern about Caldwell's obscurity is not to be ignored. Recently I sat on a class in southern literature. When I read the syllabus, I saw the conspicuous absence of Caldwell's name. On approaching the teacher, I asked why and she immediately became embarassed and said she that Caldwell's name had mistakenly been dropped while editing the syllabus. Miller's book is certainly one we need to remind us of the life and contributions of this man of southern literature.

Great Biography, Best Selling american author of his time.

Dr. Miller tells the interesting truth behind one of the best selling authors of all time. Caldwell's life growing up poor in the deep south set the tone for what his work will become in the upcoming years. Miller, a student of David Donald (2 time pulitzer prize winner, "Look Homeward Angel:Bio of Thomas Wolfe", and official Lincoln biographer) at Harvard University, gives the reader a complete picture of an author who has been forgotten in time. Caldwell's gritty, often pornographic style has been belittled by todays critics, but Miller shows Caldwell was more than a pulp writer, he was a complex man, with a simple style. A must read.
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