James Agee's A Death in the Family is a posthumous novel based on the largely complete manuscript that the author left upon his death in 1955. Agee had been working on the novel for many years, and portions of the work had already appeared in The Partisan Review, The Cambridge Review, The New Yorker, and Harper's Bazaar.
Published in 1957, the novel was edited by David McDowell. Several lengthy passages, part of Agee's manuscript whose position in the chronology was not identified by the author, were placed in italics by the editor, whose decision it was to place them at the conclusion of Parts I and II. These dream-like sequences suggest the influence of James Joyce, especially of Ulysses