Issue 82: Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison
It was generally believed that the original manuscript of Agee’s killed article [which spawned Let Us Now Praise Famous Men] had been destroyed—or lost for good—until his daughter discovered it in a collection of manuscripts that had been sitting in his Greenwich Village home for years: a 30,000-word typescript simply titled “Cotton Tenants.” This June, the piece was finally published—released by Melville House as a stand-alone text alongside an assortment of Evans’s photographs.
For the first time, we can compare Praise to the husk of its original form. It’s a raw split-screen glimpse into the process of witnessing itself: how does the morally outraged mind begin to arrange its materials? And then—once it runs into doubt, or begins to doubt itself—how does it rearrange them all over again?
[Portrait of Agee by Walker Evans]