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Politics Plays - Book Report/Review Example

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Any work of literature-any statement of opinion, for that matter-is backed by an overt or a covert political stance. Historical novelists, especially those who write about events in recent history, often exhibit a clearly defined political point of view. What has been termed 'historical fiction' generally "makes the historical events and issues crucial for the central characters and narrative" (Abrams 133)…
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Politics Plays
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Download file to see previous pages In Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, however, the politics appears predominant only because the novel is about people in politics and those whose lives they impact. It could perhaps be more appropriate to consider All the King's Men a novel of development-a kind of bildungsroman-than as a purely political or historical novel.
who "had a great fall" and who could not be "put together again" by "all the king's horses" and "all the king's men." The novel does indeed treat of the fall of Willie Stark and a few others, but the epigraph that Penn Warren has chosen for the book, from Dante's "Purgatorio" suggests a different perspective. The Italian "Mentre che la sperenza ha fior del verde"-"so long as hope retaineth aught of green"-is from line 135 of the third canto which has been translated thus in the Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed version: "By curse of theirs man is not so lost, that eternal love may not return, so long as hope retaineth aught of green"(209). The epigraph suggests that while Humpty Dumpty/Willie Stark and certain others may not be 'put together again', all hope need not die with them, and at least the narrator Jack, free of the stark burden of executing Willie's will, can move on in life with the sweetheart of his youthful dreams. Jack Burden apparently needed to come to terms with, and shed the burden of the guilt associated with the responsibilities imposed on him by his 'Boss' before accepting the weight of genuine responsibility for his own life.
As Fred Hobson notes, Robert Penn Warren's "overwhelming" concern was the question of "human guilt and responsibility" (473)-a concern undeniably larger than a preoccupation with temporal historical or political events and issues.
Jack Burden, the narrator, may appear to be telling the story of the man who became the 'Boss'-Willie Stark-but Willie's tale is interspersed with the tales of a whole lot of other people. In the opening pages of the novel, Willie is shown as the Boss he became, but his previous history is given in flashback. The 'Boss' is the wily and oily Machiavellian politician par excellence with a thirst for liquor and lucre, but he had begun his career as an idealist abstainer and a pretty boring one at that. Jack shows how the idealistic young Willie, apparently influenced by his school teacher wife, Lucy, had tried to fight for a cleaner kind of politics, standing for the post of County Treasurer. He had laboriously but unsuccessfully opposed a school building contract that was tainted by sleaze. Willie's political adolescence is presented by Burden in great detail revealing his subject's painstaking thoroughness and his implacable but impractical idealism:
You could see Willie standing on a street corner, sweating through his seersucker suit, with his hair down in his eyes, holding an envelope in one hand and a pencil in the other, working out figures to explain what he was squawking about, but folks don't listen to you when your voice is low and patient and you stop them in the hot sun and make them do arithmetic. Willie tried to get the Mason County Messenger to print something, but they wouldn't. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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