A Brief Note On James Branch Cabell, Jurgen, &

Some Cabell Resources On The Web

James Branch Cabell was born on April 14, 1879 in Richmond, Va. and died May 5, 1958 in Richmond.  He began writing fiction around the turn of the century, though it was not until he published Jurgen in 1919 that he began to receive much critical or popular attention. Shortly after the novel's publication, censorship activists in New York called for the suppression of the book on the grounds that it was obscene. Some even referred to it as pornography.

Cabell received a certain amount of notoriety from the controversy surrounding the publication of Jurgen, which ultimately led to a wider public audience and greater critical appreciation of his work in the 1920's.  His books from this decade include Figures of Earth (1921),  The High Place (1923), and  Straws and Prayer-Books (1924).

Cabell was writing at a time when several canonical American authors of the twentieth century were beginning to produce some major works. Authors such as Robert Penn Warren and William Faulkner were embarking upon their careers. It was an important time in terms of the development of the modern, realistic American novel, and Cabell's medieval romances offer an interesting counterpoint to the general trend of American writing during the first half of the century. Though rarely studied today, the internet accessibility of his most famous text, coupled with some critical and historical responses to it, should be of some value to the student of twentieth century American literature.

There is a wealth of materials on James Branch Cabell housed in the Special Collections Dept. at Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. In addition to numerous manuscripts and editions of his novels, poetry, and prose, the collection contains autographed photos of Cabell, a copy of the Emergency Committee Organized to Protest Against the Suppression of James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, and briefs and opinions from the court verdict.

I  have discovered several different websites devoted to James Branch Cabell. Some of these
are pretty good, especially the VCU James Branch Cabell exhibit. This site offers a biography and chronology of Cabell's life, and a guide to the VCU Library's holdings of the James Branch Cabell Papers.  The James Branch Cabell Page (check out the author's James Branch Cabell tattoo -- Scary!) and Mundus Vulci Decipi contain some interesting facts about his life and quote some of his other works.  There is also an etext version of The Cream of the Jest and of The Certain Hour (from our own UVA Etext center).

Site Maintained by Todd Cabell.