Caviar and Cabbage

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University of Missouri Press, 1982 - Literary Collections - 278 pages

Melvin B. Tolson is best known as the poet who wrote The Harlem Gallery and Libretto for the Republic of Liberia.  He received national acclaim only toward the end of his life, but early in his career he achieved considerable recognition as a challenging speaker and activist within the black American community.

Tolson wrote a weekly column for the Washington Tribune from 9 October 1937 to 24 June 1944, entitled "Caviar and Cabbage." As the title suggests, the subjects he treated were various.  He perceived the problems of the black world of the late thirties and early forties with the insight of an intellectual and the verbal richness and rhythms of a poet heavily influenced by a strong pulpit tradition.  This combination makes the columns valuable both as literature and as cultural history.

Robert Farnsworth has selected and edited these columns.  His introduction describes their cultural and biographical context.  He has arranged the columns according to subject: "Christ and Radicalism," "Race and Class," "World War II," "Random Shots," "Writers and Readings," and "Reminiscences."  The background material and the arrangement of the works underline their significance.


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Christ and Radicalism
The Death of an Infidel April 2 1938
Paul Robeson Rebels against Hollywoods Dollars March

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About the author (1982)

About the Author

Melvin B. Tolson (1898-1966) was one of the outstanding black poets of the twentieth century, the author of three books of poetry as well as several novels, dramas, one-act plays, and a newspaper column. A Professor of English and Drama at Langston University, Langston, Oklahoma, from 1947 to 1965, Tolson's work won the Annual Poetry Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1966.

About the Editor

Robert M. Farnsworth is Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  He is the author of numerous articles and poems published in scholarly journals as well as the editor of A Gallery of Harlem Portraits and coeditor of Richard Wright:  Impressions and Perspectives.

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