Noel Polk


All the King's Men appeared in 1946 in a text that had been changed in hundreds of ways by Harcourt editors; cumulatively these editorial interventions changed the novel in serious ways, mostly in changing the character of the narrator, Jack Burden, and his relationship to the events he narrates. The "restored" edition, published in 2001, indeed restores Warren's original text wherever it was possible, and so makes available a text much closer to what Warren had written initially. This essay offers a general explanation of the differences between the two versions of All the King's Men, a detailed listing of some of the more important differences, and a brief explanation of why I chose one reading over another.