The Stories of Erskine Caldwell

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That distinction won him a large following in the Soviet Union, where for years he was one of the most popular American authors, but during the cold war it also won him the enmity of some American conservatives, who denounced him as a tool of Moscow. Through it all, Mr. Caldwell insisted that his purpose had never been to change the world but only to report on it. I lived in the same neighborhood as the Tobacco Road fraternity and I went to school in the area. I knew very little about life outside the South.

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I was only trying to tell a story. That attitude typified Mr. Caldwell's views generally. Asked in an interview in The Georgia Review in whether he had become involved in the civil-rights movement of the 's and 70's, Mr. Caldwell replied that he had not. But I'm a writer, not a crusader.


I leave the crusading to others. Caldwell was born Dec. In he married Helen Lannegan, with whom he later had three children and from whom he was later divorced, and the following year he settled on a farm in Maine where for the next seven years he tried to succeed as full-time writer. I had the good fortune to persuade a woman on The Charlotte Observer to let me review books.

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It didn't pay anything, but when I finished the reviews I'd sell the books for 25 cents to secondhand bookstores. In an autobiography, ''Call It Experience'' , Mr. Caldwell recounted how he sent one story a day for a week to Maxwell Perkins, the Scribner's book editor who doubled as editor of Scribner's Magazine. Perkins rejected them all, so Mr. Caldwell sent him two stories a week until the editor finally accepted two of them to run in the same issue of the magazine.

Wrong Impression on Offer. When Mr.

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Perkins said he would pay ''two-fifty'' for both of them, Mr. Caldwell replied: ''Two-fifty?

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I don't know. I thought maybe I'd receive a little more than that. Perkins upped the payment to three-fifty.

Erskine Caldwell

Caldwell replied. A mystified Mr. Perkins replied: ''Three dollars and fifty cents? Oh, no! I must have given you the wrong impression, Caldwell.

Not three dollars and a half. By then Mr. Caldwell had already written the novels ''The Bastard'' and ''Poor Fool'' as well as ''American Earth'' , a collection of stories. Soon afterward he sold ''Tobacco Road'' to Mr. Perkins, and he never again had to worry about succeeding as a full-time writer. Hollywood also bought the book, but Mr. Caldwell described Darryl Zanuck's movie version as ''one of the most conspicuous failures in cinematic history'' because of its falsified happy ending.

Erskine Caldwell

Caldwell wrote two dozen novels, 10 short-story collections, an autobiography, a dozen works of nonfiction, plus four books with the photographer Margaret Bourke-White. They married in , two years after collaborating on ''You Have Seen Their Faces,'' a text-picture book about the South, and subsequently collaborated on books about prewar Czechoslovakia and wartime Russia.

He wrote Hollywood scripts for about five years, and he also wrote articles from Mexico and Czechoslovakia for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Home-State Honors in 's. Criticized and censored by the complicating intellects of literary centurions on one side and by the misapprehending loyalties of sentimental Southerners on another, Caldwell persevered to outlive and outwork his detractors and to earn the highest accolades of his profession and his fellow Southerners. Between and , Erskine Caldwell published 26 novels, 16 collections of stories, 15 books of nonfiction, two children's books, and a collection of poetry.

Two of his novels are easily among the most well-known works in twentieth-century America, either through the sheer number of copies sold or due to the many adaptations that they have inspired. Tobacco Road , the enduring depiction of impoverished Georgia tenant farmers, was included in The Modern Library's list of the most influential novels in English since His aggressive, adventurous journalism and his craft as a short-story writer are often overshadowed by the fame or notoriety of his novels.

Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories series. At last count, his books had sold more than 80 million copies and have been translated into 43 languages.

Tobacco Road And Seven Other Classic Erskine Caldwell Titles Now Available As Ebooks

Caldwell, Erskine with Robert Cantwell, ed. The Humorous Side of Erskine Caldwell. Men and Women; Twenty-two Stories. Boston, Little, Brown, Deep South : Memory and Observation. New York: Dodd, Mead,