Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy birthday, James Cozzens.

James Gould Cozzens, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1948 novel Guard of Honor but also has a place on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list for his 1942 novel The Just and the Unjust, was born today in 1903. He died in 1978.

The Just and the Unjust centers on a murder trial in a small Pennsylvania town, with Cozzens's careful attention to legal procedure and the main character, a young assistant district attorney who wrestles with questions of justice and ambition. Time magazine called The Just and the Unjust "as skillfully served up as The Postman Always Rings Twice [and . . .] the year's most interesting literary disappointment." Yet Time put Cozzens on the cover of its Sept. 2, 1957, issue, calling him "the Garbo of U.S. letters" in its accompanying story.

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