An Event With The Baffler


Dear friends,

On Monday, June 3, at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, our editor in chief John Summers will be discussing James Agee and Walker Evans's newly discovered Cotton Tenants, co-published by The Baffler and Melville House.

Cotton Tenants is the first dispatch to come out of Agee and Evans's reporting trip to Alabama during the height of the Depression. Agee and Evans later collaborated on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, cited by the New York Public Library as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. But Cotton Tenants marked Agee's first attempt to tell the story of the extreme poverty that he found among the tenant farmers. Commissioned in the summer of 1936 for Fortune Magazine, only to be shelved by Agee's editors, the typescript wasted away in his Greenwich Village home for decades after his death in 1955, a piercing fragment lodged within a collection of manuscripts.

Agee's daughter inherited both the home and the collection, and eventually the James Agee Trust transferred the collection to the University of Tennessee; there, all the papers were cataloged, and "Cotton Tenants" was discovered among the remains. The manuscript first appeared in part in The Baffler #19 last year.

The talk begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. Harvard Book Store is located at 1256 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, just down the street from the Harvard Square T station. We hope to see you there!

Best,
The Baffler


Praise for Cotton Tenants:

That's the first thing to be said about this essay:
Fortune was crazy not to run it. It was a failure of nerve, and a lost chance at running one of the great magazine pieces from that era . . . Magazines do like having advertisers. Which only makes what The Baffler and Melville House have done more valuable.
 
John Jeremiah Sullivan, Bookforum
 
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