A Death in the Family

New version

University of Tennessee professor Michael Lofaro claimed the version published in 1957 was not the version intended for print by the author. He discussed his work at a conference that was part of the Knoxville James Agee Celebration (April 2005). Lofaro tracked down the author's original manuscripts and notes and has reconstructed a version he says is more authentic. Lofaro's version of the novel, A Death in the Family: A Restoration of the Author's Text, was published in 2007 as part of a 10-volume set, The Collected Works of James Agee (University of Tennessee Press). Lofaro is also the author of Agee Agonistes: Essays on the Life, Legend, and Works of James Agee (2007).


According to Lofaro, McDowell altered the original text in a number of ways:

  • Removed the original opening, a nightmare scene, and instead started the novel with "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," a previously published short work of Agee's that was not intended as part of the novel.
  • Altered the order of the book, which was intended to be chronological.
  • Some chapters were removed.
  • Some chapters were chopped up.
  • Some chapters were moved and presented as flashbacks.
  • The number of chapters was changed from 44 short chapters to 20.

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