Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren: New Beginnings and New Directions, 1953-1968

(Nonfiction; Louisiana State University Press, 2008)

There’s a scene in Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 masterpiece, All the King’s Men, in which Willie Stark, the Miltonic hero, explains why he will win a political dispute: “One thing I understand and you don’t,” he says to his younger adversary, “is how to make the mare go. I can make the mare go.” In an election season especially, a reader is sensitive to the admission that political expediency exists at an ever-widening distance from authenticity, and fears that the system—the horse race itself—even demands such a breach. One longs to see the fables revealed and the facts brought forward.

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