Read The Morning Watch by James Agee Online


James Agee, whose death at the age of 45 cut short a brilliant career in American letters, is best known to millions of readers for his posthumous novel, A Death in the Family.In The Morning Watch, his only other published novel, the extraordinary power of language and the themes that so moved readers of A Death in the Family may already be seen. In prose of astonishing clJames Agee, whose death at the age of 45 cut short a brilliant career in American letters, is best known to millions of readers for his posthumous novel, A Death in the Family.In The Morning Watch, his only other published novel, the extraordinary power of language and the themes that so moved readers of A Death in the Family may already be seen. In prose of astonishing clarity and intensity, Agee captured the portrait of an appealing and very real boy - serious, pitiable, funny - at the moment of his initiation into a feared yet fascinating world....

Title : The Morning Watch
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780380005697
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Morning Watch Reviews

  • Sarah
    2019-05-05 04:07

    This book is about an adolescent boy mourning the loss of his father and desperately trying to achieve religious piety...without really understanding what that means. Being a child, he takes things literally. Being sensitive, he takes things personally. And, basically, talks himself in shame spirals trying to sort it all out. --It's interesting how religion can reflect one's core issues: shame, anger, or existential dread. We're never more revealing than when we talk about "God"!Though the story is meant to be humorous, it's mostly horrifying and a little sad taken within the context of Agee's real life. He was a man devoured by shame, ultimately drinking himself to death. It's rather telling, in my opinion, that both his novels are centered on young boys, lost and deeply insecure. Frankly, I doubt he ever did sort it all out. But then, who does?A Death in the Family, his second novel, is a true masterpiece.

  • Neal Jochmann
    2019-05-10 19:58

    This is a superlatively beautiful novella containing some of the best similes for entering indoors/exiting outdoors I've ever heard. The book gives you a little peek into a consciousness. Sort of like a Virginia Woolf thing? You might like it if you like that.You'll like this book if you can get your hands on it. I just recently found a copy of the book in After-words bookstore in Chicago this past Thursday, and I rejoiced and read the whole thing again that night, loving the concept of depicting anecdotes snuck into the wandering internal monologue of a boy at prayer.Especially cool: books with three parts, the first and third of which are narrow, like metal bookends, compared with the hefty, digressing, energetic second part.

  • Michael Neno
    2019-05-10 22:19

    The Morning Watch, more of a novella than a novel, was first published in 1951 and is a precursor to Agee's more mature and accomplished, though posthumous, A Death in the Family (one of the finest novels I've read).Drawing upon his experiences as a boy attending the Saint Andrews School for Mountain Boys, run by Episcopal monks, The Morning Watch takes place over the course of about three hours, as Richard and his fellow students are awoken in the very early hours of Good Friday to pray at the chapel alter. Similar to novelist Nicholson Baker's later experiments in relating minute amounts of time, every minute of the time spent in chapel as experienced by Richard is described. A sensitive and earnest soul, twelve-year old Richard is torn between a passion for holiness and the contradictory self centeredness he believes extreme piety must require. The characters and situations have all the subtle, carefully observed frailty and flawed humanity of a Rembrandt sketch. A second section involves a delinquent walk to a lake. Here the symbolism employed uncharacteristically becomes somewhat heavy-handed, though no less compelling. Agee's writing is as poetic and poignant as always. The length and reach of The Morning Watch is modest, though, and probably of most interest to those who have read Agee's more important work, particularly A Death in the Family.

  • Patrick
    2019-04-30 02:52

    First off, this one really struck a chord. In some ways it's like reading your own childhood. That's not say this is some nostalgic romp, it's pretty uncomfortable finding similarities with this character in your own childhood. It's also a story I never imagined was worth telling. The pathos it delves into isn't one you want to admit outwardly, given how unflattering it all is.The story is divided into three parts. Part I: In hidden vainglory we meet the eleven year old narrator, Richard. Part II: we begin to get a sense of the depth of Richard's pathology. An outsider acutely aware of his separateness from his classmates, he uses religion to protect himself from this painful otherness and as a means to feel superior to them in his otherness. Part II is also a sort of dark night of the soul of an eleven year old. "Not many people would know how terrible his sin was, or would feel a contrition so deep, or would have the courage truly and fully, in all of its awful shamefulness, to confess it: and again the strength and self-esteem fell from him and he was aghast in the knowledge that still in in this pride and complacency he had sinned and must still again confess; and again that in recognizing this newest sin as swiftly as it arose, and in repenting it and determining to confess it as well, he had in a sense balanced the offense and restored his well-being and his self-esteem; and again in that there was evil." Part III is so steeped in religious allegory that most of the coded language is over my head. It is full of images of death and rebirth. Three actually. The fourth time ends only with death, but Richard appears to take solace in the fact that the death ends with his own father in Heaven, which I guess is a sort of rebirth of its own. Part III is clearly where the author intended the rubber to meet the road, but it's so obtuse that the real heart of story is the self-mortification of Part II.

  • Aaron Searcy
    2019-05-09 02:13

    Still thinking about the implications of the locust shell and the snake... Loved the descriptions (particularly the one with the mirrors facing each other) of sin and redemption, of good and evil beauty. The last 30 pages or so were some of my favorite, ending with the walk back to the school, the shell at Richard's heart (which i think represents the bodily Christ legacy) and the snake (which maybe represents sin, since it has just shed its own skin, but is still beautiful) eaten in the hog pen. The fact that Richard feels deep empathy for both is a perfect picture of what it is to be human... And the sudden realization and recall of the deceased father, and the resultant lightening burden that Richard feels, helps Agee to show the human factor in all parts of the Christian tradition (the Christ and the Devil), which is extremely prevalent here in Tennessee.. Even the cover of the book, (which im just now noticing is a boys face, half shadow and half light) goes along perfectly with everything, and I can relate to Richard's devotional inner-monologues so so well, even though i havent been to church in years.

  • Christopher Sutch
    2019-04-23 00:13

    This is not my kind of book. I find the prose, beautifully and masterfully crafted though it is, to be tedious, its sentences too lengthy. Yet I think this short work is an extraordinary achievement. Agee explores several spiritual, physical and intellectual topics in dialectical relation to each other with exceeding care and wisdom. The fact that he can make his prose describe the unfolding of the events and their comprehension in the mind of his protagonist and his reader is remarkable. Agee's prose style helps him in this by giving him the time to show those shifts in consciousness and awareness that the reader might possibly recognize as similar to something experienced before, if not these particular subjects and events. The work is about Catholicism, bodily and spiritual mortification, coming of age, sexuality, death, and learning to comprehend Christ's suffering and sacrifice on an emotional and intellectual, theological, plain not available to children, but which, Agee's argument seems to be, present to adults.

  • David
    2019-05-08 20:17

    Nowhere near as brilliant as "A Death in The Family," but still a powerful vignette of Richard (what must be James Agee himself in autobiographical fiction as a 12 year old), struggling to come to grips with the authenticity of his religious fervor as a young student in Catholic boy's boarding school in his home state of Tennessee. Where others may get "bored" with Agee's refusal to let his readers turn away from the minutia of Richard's seemingly endless vacillation between self-doubt and self-righteousness, I look at what little James Agee has given us in this novella (144 short pages) and his few other works as gifts that I don't believe any other writer that I have read has the ability to give. January, 2015, has become the month of James Agee for me; while this "discovery" is exciting and rewarding, I am actually feeling an impending sadness knowing that I will have read all is literary works by the end of the next several weeks. Maybe that's the best compliment a writer could receive. I don't know.

  • Van
    2019-05-22 20:52

    I'm a fan of Agee. In this work he shows he is skilled at writingfrom the perspective of a child, but honestly, he does a better job of writingfrom the perspective of a child in A Death in the Family, and that book contrastsit with adult perspectives and more depth. So, of the two, I'd recommend A Deathin the Family. I think The Morning Watch holds some appeal to me because it is about a lonely boy in Tennessee growing up in a religious environment and his having conflicting emotions about how to reconcile the different and developing aspects of his personality.It also shows the flip sides of good and evil in almost everything. These themes may not be appealing to everyone.

  • Ed
    2019-05-05 04:06

    I have all of James Agee's works -- most of them I've owned for over 40 years. In 1972 we used a selection from his poem, Permit Me Voyage, in our wedding vows.But I'd never read The Morning Watch until now. It is a beautiful book, and one that resonated with me, as, like the protagonist (based on Agee himself as a boy), my father died when I was a boy, and like Agee's protagonist, I, too turned to religion (entering the minor seminary of our Catholic missionary order for a short time) for solace. So although this book had a special meaning for me, great writing crosses all interests.

  • Dominic
    2019-04-22 21:07

    A bizarre and breathtaking novella about a Catholic boy with a simultaneous Saint-complex and guilt-complex. Ethereal, strange, fragmented. The adolescent voice is shockingly real. I will definitely be rereading this one, since it reminds me of my Catholic upbringing (and eventual disillusionment as I became a man). It made me think of all the crazy things I thought while kneeling for all that crazy time in churches.Plus, I love Agee. His sentences are hypnotic.

  • Penny
    2019-05-19 21:18

    This is an emotionally spiritual book about a young man and his relationship with God. I was very moved by many passages. It is a very short book, but I found myself re-reading pages, so it did take me some time. I felt the author's condemnation of himself as a fallible human being, and his oneness with God as he struggled with his failings. I shared some of his guilt and his self-recriminations. This book would probably not mean as much to a non-Christian.

  • Annie
    2019-05-08 23:02

    novella, autobio, went to st andrews

  • Willem
    2019-05-05 01:01

    4 1/2

  • Clayton Brannon
    2019-05-08 03:52

    Extremely insightful read of a young boy. Well worth the time spent. Aged is a master of language when he describes events, feelings, and emotion.

  • Allegra
    2019-05-04 21:17

    Not as refined in terms of narrative as A Death in the Family, but Agee has a way with words like no other.

  • Bobparr
    2019-04-29 01:14

    Si rimane colpiti dalla straordinaria sensibilità di Agee - anche se questa sensibilità generata dai pensieri di un dodicenne sembra posticcia - nonche' dalla evidenza dell'enorme danno psicologico, morale e fisco che la credenza nel cristianesimo può indurre in un ragazzino. Un racconto sull'orrore del venerdì santo e sul passaggio visionario dalla pubertà ad una adolescenza conquistata a fatica. Molto simbolico, altrettanto lirico, assai poetico, lievemente ermetico.