Tales of Conjure and The Color Line: 10 Stories

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Courier Corporation, Jun 19, 1998 - Fiction - 117 pages
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Outstanding, affordably priced volume presents a selection of 10 best stories by a pioneer in the development of African-American fiction: "The Goophered Grapevine," "Po’ Sandy," "Sis’ Becky’s Pickaninny," "The Wife of His Youth," "Dave’s Neckliss," "The Passing of Grandison," "A Matter of Principle," "The Sheriff’s Children," "Baxter’s Procrustes," and "The Doll." Redolent with wit, charm, and insight; essential reading for students of African-American culture. Edited and with an Introduction by Joan Sherman.

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About the author (1998)

An African American born in Ohio, Charles Waddell Chesnutt grew up in North Carolina. At age 25, he returned to Cleveland to raise his family and practice legal stenography. Resisting the temptation to pass as a white man, he made the issue of race and the inequality of African Americans in the Reconstruction South the primary subject of his fiction, essays, and speeches throughout his life. His first story, "The Goophered Grapevine" (1887), was published in the Atlantic Monthly. His major story collections, The Conjure Woman (1899) and The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (1899), are local-color stories rich in dialect. Uncle Julius, the former slave storyteller, is realistically presented as he tells his Northern white employer tales that show slaves using wit and intelligence to get the best of their masters. Chesnutt's later novels, The House Behind the Cedars (1900) and The Marrow of Tradition (1901), stories of passing and interracial relationships, speak more boldly and bitterly against the racial injustices of the South. They were not well received and, despite the more conciliatory tone of his last novel, The Colonel's Dream (1905), his popularity waned and he returned to his legal business. In 1928 the NAACP awarded Chesnutt the Spingarn Medal for distinguished service to the Negro race. Readers today are rediscovering the humor and subtle satire of Chesnutt's stories.

Joan R. Sherman is professor emerita of English at Rutgers University. She is author and editor of several books on nineteenth-century African American poets.

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