Robert Penn Warren: All the King's Men

(1548 words)

Originally conceived as a play entitled Proud Flesh, the story of a politician's rise and fall was expanded into novel form after six years of writing and revising. Like Warren's previously published novels, Night Rider (1939) and At Heaven's Gate (1943), All the King's Men dealt with themes that Warren would revisit time and again in his novels: the protagonist in search of identity and meaning in his or her life; the dogged search for a father figure, with most of the candidates doomed to fail; the pursuit of the American Dream and the moral cost of such pursuit; the revelation of painful truth; and the human capacity for evil. However, critics have agreed overwhelmingly that Warren never addressed these …

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Donohue, Cecilia. "All the King's Men". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]