|William Piper||Kantor, MacKinlay: Andersonville|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Mackinlay Kantor. Andersonville. Cleveland, New York: World Publishing, 1955.
Simultaneously issued as Stockade Editon. Autographed by the author for members of the Civil War Book Club (National Union Catalog).
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||First American edition published in trade cloth binding.|
|4. Pagination||386 leaves, pp  8-760 763-767 |
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||An advertisement for books by the author appears on the back of the second leaf. The book is dedicated to Irene. There is no formal introduction but there is a quote from R. Randolph Stevenson, "formerly surgeon general in the Army of the Confederate States of America" The quote states that any historian attempting to create an unbiased account of the Civil War must consider for all factors and occurences. It also infers that all involved will be judged accordingly by history itself.|
|6. Illustrated?||Black and white plate (map) facing p. 760. Shows features of Andersonville. Illustrator not found.|
|8. General Appearance||Text is very readable. Ouside margins measure about 25 mm, Top margins measure approximately 18 mm and the inside measures about 15mm. The bottom margins very distinctly with the page (see section 10). Chapters are begun with large roman numerals and without title. The first paragraph of every chapter is not indented but left in block form.
|10. Description of Paper||Paper is smooth and of nice texture. However, pages are cut unevenly at bottom and vary between long and short pages in no discernible pattern. The paper has yellowed some, but no more than might be expected. The corners are now rounded and stianed gray a little. Generally the paper has held up well.|
|11. Description of Binding||Trade Cloth Binding,calico tekture cloth, not embossed. light Blue; bluish with yellow; yellowish letering.
Transcription of front cover:
Transcription of spine:
MACKINLAY KANTOR : ANDERSONVILLE : WORLD
|12. Title Page Transcription||MACKINLAY KANTOR : Andersonville : THE WORLD PUBLISHING COMPANY : CLEVELAND AND NEW YORK
Title page verso transcription:
Library of Congress card number 55-8257 :
COPYRIGHT, 1995, BY MACKINLAY KANTOR. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher except for brief passages included in a review appearing in a newspaper or magazine. Manufactured in the United States of America. Designed by Abe Lerner.
|15. Other||On the first leaf, written in pencil, "FE, Pulitzer Prize winner for 1956."
Extensive bibliography and acknowledgements in the back of the book along wiht an "About the Author". On the back of last leaf is written "OTI, 1156"
The "Stockade Version" Contains an extra leaf in the front of the book which says :
"This autographed first edition of Andersonville is limited to one thousand copies, of which five hundred are for private distribution." The author has signed under this in black ink.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||N/A|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||N/A|
|5. Editions from other publishers?||W.H.Allen-
1956, London. (767p.; 23 cm.)
1955, New York (767 p.; 24 cm.)
1974 1955, New York (767p.; 24 cm.)
1976, Franklin Center, PA. (897 p. ill.; 25 cm., "A limited edition".)
1958, n.p. (701 p.; 19cm.)
New American Library-
1955, [New York] (733p.; 18cm.)
1957, n.p. (733p.)
1964 1955, [New York] (733p. map; 19cm)
1983 1955, New York (733p. map; 18cm. "A Signet Book".)
New American Library of World Literature-
1961, New York (733p.; 18 cm. "First printing, March 1957.")
1993 1955, New York, NY (766p. map; 23cm.)
White Lion Publishers-
1972 1955, London (768p. 1 map; 22cm.)
|6. Last date in print?||Published by NAL/Dutton, Sept. 1993 (in trade paper, paperback)
Published by Buccaneer Books, Incorporated, Oct. 1994 (in library binding, hardback)
Books in Print
|7. Total copies sold?||Andersonville remained on the year bestseller list until 1956. In 1955, despite only being published in October, the novel sold 121,000 copies (not ocunting book club sales). In 1956, it sold 100,000 copies.
|8. Sales by year?||See # 7|
|9. Advertising copy:||Advertisements in Publisher's Weekly:
Coming in October / KANTOR'S greatest novel- our BIGGEST. We'll make it yours! World
|11. Other promotion?||In January 14, 1956 Publisher's Weekly:
"World Recieved Honorable Mention for Andersonville"
Article details acceptance of Carey-Thomas Award by World Publishing Vice President.
Advertisement from American Booksellers Association in Publishers Weekly, Jan. 1956:
"Announcing 24 Nominees for the National Book Award (February 7)"
Sales package available for booksellers, to promote sales once winners are announced.
|13. Translations?||Publishers of Translations:
Luis De Caralt- [Spanish]
1957, Barcelona (710p. ill.)
1957, Barcelona (703p.; 21 cm.)
Europeaisher Buchklub - [German?]
1955, Stuttgart (774 p.)
J.G Cottasche Buchanlung- [?]
1957, Stuttgart (774p. map; 25cm.)
Ministererstwa Obrony Narodwej - [?]
1961, Warszawa : Wydawn (739p.; 22cm.)
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||N/A|
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
|MacKinlay Kantor was the author of over thirty novels, many volumes of short stories, and nonfiction works as well. His works range between children's books, pulp stories, and Pulitzer Prize winning novels, but it is acknowledged that he made his "greatest contribution to American letters with his historical novels"
MacKinlay Kantor was born on February 4, 1904 in Webster City, Iowa. His mother (Effie Rachel Mackinlay) was of Scotch-Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, while his father (John Marvin Kantor) had a Russian and Portuguese background. Abandoned by their father at an early age, Mackinlay and his sister were raised solely by their mother, moving between Des Moines and Webster City, Iowa and Chicago, Illinois. As a child, MacKinlay became interested in the Civil War. Eleven of his ancestors had fought for the Union, and he enjoyed hearing stories from his older relatives. It was also at this time that his mother, a journalist, began to encourage him to pursue writing.
In 1922, at age 18, Kantor won an Iowa-wide short story contest sponsored by the Des Moines Register. A year later he graduated from Webster City High School and by 1925 had moved to Chicago on his own to pursue a writing career. In Chicago he met and married Irene Layne, with whom he would have two children. His 1972 work I Love You, Irene told the story of the very meager existence they lived during the first two years of their marriage.
Kantor published his first novel in 1928. Titled Diversey , it dealt with Chicago gangsterism prevalent in the 1920's. Following a few more novels he published his first of many historical novels, the warmly received Long Remember. The book told the story of the battle of Gettysburg through an informal and unwitting participant, and marked Kantor's "jump from intention to accomplishment" (Eckley).
During World War II Kantor worked for a time as correspondent with the British Royal Air Force. Towards the end of the war he undertook combat training and flew eleven missions as a gunner with American fighting groups. Even through the war he published two books. One of these Glory for Me, was made into a film (The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)) which won thirteen Academy Awards.
In 1955 Kantor wrote what is considered hi best novel, Andersonville. The novel tells the story of a Confederate prison for Union soldiers, seen through the eyes of many ficticous and factual participant. The revelations and experiences of a myriad of characters combine details and human emotion in a way seldom found in histories of the war. Andersonville won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956.
Mackinlay Kantor continued to publish novels until 9175, when he wrote Valley Forge, an account of Washington's Revolutionary War encampment. Kantor died of a heart attack two years later on October 11, 1977, in Sarasota, Florida. His papers are held by the Library of Congress with the exception of those pertaining to Andersonville and God and my Country, which are held by the University of Iowa Library.
1. Dictionary of Literary Biography. V. 9, p. 148. (Wilton Eckley)
2. www.galenet.com (Contemporary Authors Database)
3. Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement 10, p. 399
4. www.galenet.gale.com (Biography and Genealogy Master Index)
Initial Reviews of Andersonville were generally very positive, at least in popular reviews. Mentioned repeatedly is Kantor's attention to detail in painting what many considered a riveting account of the Civil War prison camp. His abundance of believable and accurate characters is praised along with his ability to combine fiction and fact. While some reviews cite inconsistencies in Kantor's writing, most all praise his ability to spin a story. Upon Kantor's Reception of the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, the novel was applauded again, with equal enthusiasm.
"Besides effective storytelling, Mr. Kantor has achieved realism and authenticity by prefacing his writing with solid sessions of research, close study of his territory and old records."
-The New York Times, May 8, 1956. p 1:2.
"Onto the warp of history Mr. Kantor has woven with the stuff of imagination an immense and terrible pattern, a pattern which finally emerges as a gigantic panorama of the war itself, and of the nation that tore itself to pieces in war. Out of fragmentary and incoherent records, Mr. Kantor has wrought the greatest of out Civil War novels."
-The New York Times Book Review, October 30, 1955. p.1
"But there's more to a great book than impressive statistics. What it takes is what Andersonville has: style, beauty, story, and an unforgettable compassion for humanity."
-Look, December 13, 1955. p. 188-9.
However, not all reviews appreciated Kantor's work. In an article in The Georgia Review, William B. Hessehine cites a lack of scholarship on Kantor's part, claiming he merely follows a "formula for a best selling "historical" novel". He continues:
"Its errors and its inadequacies should not be allowed to hide the literary form in which it appears."
- The Georgia Review, 1956. p. 92- 100.
|First published in 1962, W.J. Stuckey's study of the history of the Pulitzer Prize gave Andersonville a rather scathing review. While he acknowledges the book's shock value, he finds fault with Kanotr's style and method.
"It is a novel, and as such is an interpretation of life, not a history of the Civil War and it must be judged accordingly. As a novel, it is most undistinguished."
-The Pulitzer Prize Novels : A critical Backward Look, 1981.
More recent references to Andersonville are usually in passing, but regularly cite the novel's place as a major work in describing the period and occurences. A New York Times television review of the TNT miniseries "Andersonville" (screenplay written by someon else) called the novel "Mr. Kantor's panoramic novel" (March 3, 1996).
|Deep in his novel Andersonville, Mackinlay Kantor asserts that, "few people will assemble to watch a man living, most will congregate to watch him die." (p. 361) While this idea is offered as a capsule of life inside a Confederate war prison it stands also to show us why the book was so immensely popular. Despite mixed reviews (some very harsh), questionable literary value and historical accuracy, little plot continuity, and considerable length, Andersonville managed to become a bestseller and win the Pulitzer Prize. It is the vividly (and shockingly) related dying of men, juxtaposed with the stories of those living, and the place of the Civil War in popular culture that earned Andersonville its place on top of the bestseller lists, and a lofty chair in the halls of historical fiction.
Prior to its actual publication in October 1955, an advance demand for Andersonville had been created by Kantor's publisher, World Publishing Company, through advertisements in publishing trade journals and the distribution of a large number of "reading copies" by World. Upon its actual publication, Kantor's novel gained generally positive reviews in widely read sources like the New York Times. These widely read analyses of the novel seemed to have far greater effect on the book's reception than the criticism found in more academic reviews.
The most sprawling review is that appearing on the first page of the New York Times Book Review three days after the novel's first publication. This review, along with a similar New York Times review three days earlier, emphasizes many times the role of death in the novel. The earlier Times review goes to the extent to state that the novel "reeks, rather frequently, and usually with the stuff of life in the midst of death" (Poore, p. 31). Upon reading the novel this is immediately apparent; in one particularly disturbing scene, a crippled, dying prisoner searches for sustenance in the excrement of another prisoner. The death and sickness inherent in the novel, and well documented in the review, manifests themselves in the fact that few characters survive for more than several chapters, dying from causes as varied as scurvy, hanging by fellow prisoners, musket fire, and collapsed tunnels.
Of course, a certain preoccupation with death comes along with the subject matter of the novel, but these early reviews seem to applaud Kantor's treatment and expansion of such grisly details. The Book Review article goes to extra length to illustrate the numbers that died at the prison, expressing the magnitude by the sum of the dead of several other battles. Accompanying this review is an article by Kantor himself, where he explains his duty to the dead of the camp in writing the story. Kantor's article is embellished by descriptions of the thousands of graves on a bleak day, and his communing with the spirits of the Andersonville dead at night. Likewise the Book Review describes the elements of the story in terms that go over and above those necessary for a simple book review ("This is the story of how Andersonville drank the blood of its victims" (Commager, p.1)). While the prison was indeed horrible and merited such description, such dramatization in a book review doubtlessly provided quite a boost in interest for the treated novel.
Another element praised at length in the Times reviews was Kantor's relation of many different characters, some rather in depth, in a short period of time allotted for each character. As aforementioned, few soldiers survive more than several chapters, and yet Kantor manages to skillfully describe the elements that each character brings into the prison camp. Kantor usually does so by a relating a life episode such as how a Union soldier entered the army, or how he met his sweetheart back home. In this same fashion, the Times reviews present a small sample of the characters, making sure to remind readers that it's "barely a start for Mr. Kantor" (Poore, p. 31).
In the longer-lived characters, the Kantor offers up an antithesis to the "infinitely disparate individuals" (Poore, p.31) wrapped in death shrouds inside the prison. Understandably the characters that live longest rarely, if ever even enter the prison, and are generally enemies of the Union (whether by birth, fortune, or choice). Kantor usually endows them with a compassion for the enemy prisoners. Explained rather in depth in the Book Review article is the nursing to health of an escapee by the crippled ex-confederate soldier Coral Tebbs. Of course, the reviewers stress this evidence of humanity through conflict, and understandably so. Kantor speaks to the positives of human nature through these characters, drawing readers in by asking them to invest more emotionally than just disgust.
Not all reviewers would admire Kantor's "imagination" (Commager, p. 1) in creating the characters of the book. In his review of Pulitzer Prize winning novels, J.W. Stuckey finds the characters unconvincing, and Kantor's style heavy handed. Stuckey deplores the book as being excessively long and without plot and theme. He finds the combination of these flaws with the "emphasis on blood, pus, rotting corpses, vomit, diarrhea, and gangrene" to result in a good deal of shock value. While Stuckey maintains that Kantor does not convey the horror especially well, he does acknowledge that the terrible details are an effective tool drawing readers in. This same presence, this shock, is the same which the popular New York Times reviewers described ("The stuff of life in the midst of death" (Poore, p. 31)). It was this shock value, highlighted for readers in popular and literary analysis that brought interest into the walls of Andersonville.
In a similar way, reviews with an academically historical slant found problems with Kantor's characters. Similar to Stuckey, William B. Hesseltine found the characters "conventional sand stylized" (p.98). Upon examination, Kantor makes sure to include several characters that are atypical of Civil War fiction: the noble planter (Ira Claffey), the slaves that are satisfied with servitude (the Claffey servants), the heartsick young woman (Lucy), and tortured commanders (Winder and Wirz), among others. Hesseltine's major problem with the book, historically, also sheds light on one reason why the book was so popular. Hesseltine asserts that in doing research for characters of the novel, Kantor not only resorted to stereotypes, but he also bought into the propagandized accounts of the Andersonville debacle, and painted a skewed picture of what life was really like.
Hesseltine sets up his argument by explaining that following the war, when Captain Henry Wirz was put on trial for war crimes committed at Camp Sumter at Andersonville, numerous accounts were written of life in the prison. In the two years immediately following, twenty-eight books and articles were published related to Confederate prisons, either to gain sympathy from legislators (and thus pensions) or just express ideas about the horrors of war at the time. Many of these accounts were largely falsified, aided by evidence form the trial of Wirz. As the accounts seemed to mirror each other, they contributed to the Nation's collective memory of the conflict and "passed securely into American legend" (Hesseltine, p. 97). What Hesseltine fails to conjecture is that, by inadvertently furthering common perceptions (correct or not) Kantor perpetuated the very legend of the Civil War itself. This legend is what helped make both the accounts of the prison and Andersonville so immensely popular.
It is entirely understandable that the Civil War occupies such a prominent place in our national consciousness. Not only was it the most costly in terms of humanity in this nation, it is our standard by which to measure bloodshed. In The Civil War in Popular Culture, his study of the Civil War's place in American popular consciousness, Jim Cullen states that "as 'the crossroads of our being' [the Civil War] has become a key battleground in struggles to envision the possibilities and limits of U.S. society" (p.13). The war, and its participants and bystanders, have been romanticized, chastised, idealized, and commercialized. In the process, the entire phenomenon has passed into the popular legend alluded to by Hesseltine.
Following the end of the war, literature sought to push forward ideas that were not quite resolved after armed conflict was finished, in the South especially. After a few decades however, an almost literary reconciliation occurred in that writers in the North and South strove to move past partisanship that predated the war. Differences were still stressed however, but more so in stereotypes that would further creation of the popular memory of Civil War days.
In this tradition, Andersonville portrays Yankee and Rebel characters, in both positive and negative light. Native Georgians like the planter Ira Claffey are kind and compassionate, as are prisoners like Nathan Dreyfoos, world traveler who rid the stockyard of raiders. On the other hand, prisoner Willie Collins is a thug and criminal, while Commander Henry Wirz unfairly takes out his emotional and physical pain on soldiers. The equal treatment of characters and romanticization of their lives, however simply conveyed, lend Andersonville a place in the popular conception of the Civil War.
The fact that these characters fit a popular ideal of the war so well seems to negate any questions of historical and literary accuracy. In public opinion, because these characters are the characters that would have worn blue and gray, they are rendered believable and made much more popular. As in Gone With the Wind, another Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel, what is offered in Andersonville is a "distillation of a very specific…experience and memory of the Civil War" (Cullen, p. 4). By nature, any such memory is rendered instantly and widely popular. The fact that many characters fit stereotypical "Civil War" roles seems to boost Andersonville's popularity, by fitting it comfortably into public perception of the war.
Beyond stock characters, Kantor does do a good job of covering other aspects of military life during the Civil War. The novel contains an extensive bibliography at the end, documenting Kantor's extensive research. In addition to attempting to portray real and imagined participants Kantor includes many true details about the history of the prison. He effectively portrays the existence of the Confederate force towards the close of the war and their armament and uniform (or lack thereof). Details about diet (salt pork and corn meal), battles elsewhere (Sherman's march to the sea), and technology (railroad transport), among other things, enhance Kantor's telling in terms of fitting into the popular idea of the Civil War.
To this day, the Civil War is highly profitable and marketable. Cities like Gettysburg and states like Virginia have built entire industries on drawing Civil War tourists. In 1990, Ken Burns' Civil War mini-series debuted to 14 million viewers, and the books spent six months on the New York Times Best Seller list. Thousands of people pursue reenactments as a hobby, despite huge costs. What these, films, books, and activities offer, as Andersonville did, is "history as a form of communion" (p. 5), both for the producers and the participants. Readers of Andersonville, Mackinlay Kantor as a writer, and visitors to the National memorial in Andersonville, all gain at least some relation with the nation's past and contact a legend of our national identity.
It seems that Andersonville was a can't lose in terms of how many copies it was destined to sell, and its place in historical fiction. True, there is no plot and little unity of any one story throughout the book. Characters fit stereotypes one would expect to find in a civil war novel, and some historically important figures might have been taken liberty with. However, it is just hose historical liberties and stereotypes that insure reader interest merely through the drawing power of the Civil War legend. On top of this, Kantor adds the shock value of a terrible tragedy in our Nation's history. The dying of men, and the story of those living among the dying, drew many into the pages of Andersonville.
Commager, Henry Steele. "The Last Full Measure of Devotion: A Novel of an Infamous Prison in the Civil War" The New York Times Book Review. Oct. 30, 1955. VII, p.1.
Cullen, Jim. The Civil War in Popular Culture. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington: 1995.
Hesseltine, William B. "Andersonville Revisited." The Georgia Review., 1956, p 92-100.
Kantor, Mackinlay. "The Last Full Measure of Devotion: The Author Tells How He Relived the Tragedy" The New York Times Book Review. Oct. 30, 1955. VII, p. 1.
Kantor, Mackinlay, Andersonville. Penguin Books USA, Inc., New York : 1955.
Poore, Charles. "Andersonville (Review)." The New York Times. Oct. 27, 1955, p. 31:4.
Stuckey, W. J. The Pulitzer Prize Novels : A Critical Backward Look. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman: 1981.
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