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It’s not love. It’s blood greed.

Despite Robert Penn Warren’s—how shall I put it?—verbose style of writing, I’m really enjoying All The King’s Men.

The novel focuses on the dirtiness of politics, but it really has a little bit of everything—and so much insight into the human mind, as might be expected from a novelist who is also a famous poet.

Last week, I shared a great piece of dialogue about political speeches between “The Boss” and his right-hand man, Jack Burden, who is the narrator of the novel.

Today, let’s take a look at a passage about a totally different topic. This one, which comes from Jack Burden’s perspective, reflects on the nature of parents and their relationships with adult children.

“The child comes home and the parent puts the hooks in him. The old man, or the woman, as the case may be, hasn’t got anything to say to the child. All he wants is to have that child sit in a chair for a couple of hours and then go off to bed under the same roof. It’s not love. I am not saying that there is not such a thing as love. I am merely pointing to something which is different from love but which sometimes goes by the name of love. It may well be that without this thing which I am talking about there would not be any love. But this thing in itself is not love. It is just something in the blood. It is a kind of blood greed, and it is the fate of a man. It is the thing which man has which distinguishes him from the happy brute creation. When you got born your father and mother lost something out of themselves, and they are going to bust a hame trying to get it back, and you are it. They know they can’t get it all back but they will get as big a chunk out of you as they can.”

How ‘bout that?

This issue of broken, manipulative relationships is a recurring theme throughout All The King’s Men. Whether it’s political candidate and voter, parent and child, employer and employee, husband and wife, husband and mistress, and boyfriend and girlfriend—that thread carries throughout.

Jack Burden is an outstanding narrator. Perfect for this part of the novel. Reminds me a little of Nick Carraway from Gatsby (there’s my daily Gatsby mention if you were keeping score at home).

I’m a big fan of All The King’s Men to this point in the novel. More to come on this one next week.

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    I’ve loved all the passages you have shown from this novel. I’m putting it on my to read list for sure. Thanks!

    Like

    June 13, 2013
  2. This is sad. It is very emotional writing and dark. Makes me happy to not be him.

    Like

    June 13, 2013
    • It’s somewhat of a sad novel, but not in the way a lot of the others on this list have been.

      Like

      June 13, 2013
  3. Funny that you consider RPW and yet his book makes the time list. I do not care for long winded writers (or people for that matter). Could be a personal thing but my time for reading is a finite and valuable resource. RPW wasted my time and, as a result, he was ‘fired’ from my bookshelf.

    I guess this is why 101Books is so valuable…it focuses reading time on that which is good and eliminates time wasting blatherers (new word FTW).

    Like

    June 13, 2013
    • …consider RPW ‘verbose’….

      Like

      June 13, 2013
    • Thanks, Greg. Yeah, he’s long winded, but not in a Woolf-kind of way. The story itself is so good. Plus, his descriptive style comes and goes in spurts, usually when he’s setting up a scene. His dialogue is really good, I thought.

      Like

      June 13, 2013
  4. Great word .

    Like

    June 13, 2013
  5. I knew you’d like it! I’m glad I was right about that. I makes me feel like I “know” you! 😉

    Like

    June 13, 2013
    • Good call! I’m thinking it might be a top 10er. Such memorable characters.

      Like

      June 13, 2013
  6. Looking forward to the next installation.

    Like

    June 13, 2013
  7. Reblogged this on Adithya Entertainment.

    Like

    June 14, 2013
  8. Reblogged this on williamsen90's Blog and commented:
    very interesting book to read.

    Like

    June 14, 2013
  9. Great Words, i never read about this Story

    Like

    June 14, 2013
  10. I am tempted to say the cadence of the writing reminds me of William Faulkner, but it seems that would be too easy a comparison. Stephen King warns in ‘On Writing’ not to read too much of one author, so that your writing will not become a copy of their writing. The only other writers I would compare him to, such as Yann Martel, have learned from people like him and Faulkner.

    Like

    June 21, 2013
  11. I’ve never been much into politics, but I enjoy political commentary. I enjoy your updates about the book, and it has a good rating on Goodreads.

    Like

    June 22, 2013
  12. very interesting, cool

    Like

    January 24, 2015
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    Like

    January 24, 2015
  14. Thank you for this post!
    Really superb !!!
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    Like

    January 24, 2015

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