"I am a black man, born in Jamaica, B.W.I., and have been living in America for the last years. It was the first time I had ever come face to face with such manifest, implacable hate of my race, and my feelings were indescribable … Looking about me with bigger and clearer eyes I saw that this cruelty in different ways was going on all over the world. Whites were exploiting and oppressing whites even as they exploited and oppressed the yellows and blacks. And the oppressed, groaning under the leash, evinced the same despicable hate and harshness toward their weaker fellows. I ceased to think of people and things in the mass. [O]ne must seek for the noblest and best in the individual life only: each soul must save itself."
So wrote the first major poet of the Harlem Renaissance, whose collection of poetry, Harlem Shadows (1922), is widely regarded as having launched the movement. But McKay's literary significance goes far beyond his fierce condemnations of racial bigotry and oppression, as is amply demonstrated by the universal appeal of his sonnet, "If We Must Die," recited by Winston Churchill in a speech against the Nazis in World War II.
While in Jamaica, McKay produced two works of dialect verse, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads, that were widely read on the island. In richly authentic dialect, the poet evoked the folksongs and peasant life of his native country. The present volume, meticulously edited and with an introduction by scholar Joan R. Sherman, includes a representative selection of this dialect verse, as well as uncollected poems, and a generous number in standard English from Harlem Shadows.
McKay's verse eludes easy definition, yet this complete anthology, vividly introduced and carefully annotated by William J. Maxwell, acquaints readers with the full transnational evolution of a major voice in twentieth-century poetry.
The unexpected discovery in 2009 of a completed manuscript of Claude McKay’s final novel was celebrated as one of the most significant literary events in recent years. Building on the already extraordinary legacy of McKay’s life and work, this colorful, dramatic novel centers on the efforts by Harlem intelligentsia to organize support for the liberation of fascist-controlled Ethiopia, a crucial but largely forgotten event in American history. At once a penetrating satire of political machinations in Depression-era Harlem and a far-reaching story of global intrigue and romance, Amiable with Big Teeth plunges into the concerns, anxieties, hopes, and dreams of African-Americans at a moment of crisis for the soul of Harlem—and America.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
In a new introduction to the work, the poet and editor Kevin Young suggests that Hughes from this very first moment is “celebrating, critiquing, and completing the American dream,” and that he manages to take Walt Whitman’s American “I” and write himself into it. We find here not only such classics as “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and the great twentieth-century anthem that begins “I, too, sing America,” but also the poet’s shorter lyrics and fancies, which dream just as deeply. “Bring me all of your / Heart melodies,” the young Hughes offers, “That I may wrap them / In a blue cloud-cloth / Away from the too-rough fingers / Of the world.”
From the Hardcover edition.
A source of controversy upon its 1929 publication, The Blacker the Berry was the first novel to openly address color prejudice among black Americans. Author Wallace Thurman, an active member of the Harlem Renaissance, vividly recaptures the era's mood and spirit. His portrait of a young woman adrift in the city forms an enduringly relevant reflection of the search for racial, sexual, and cultural identity.
The paradox of Claude McKay cannot be reduced to any simple formula. He was at once an enfant terrible who took pride in the Negro's cultural heritage and an intellectual who strove for acceptance in predominantly white circles. He was a radical intent on transforming his adopted county who nevertheless left the United States temporarily for the Soviet Union. Yet these tensions, as this book strives to show, cannot simply be ascribed to personal or psychological problems; ultimately, they were rooted in the ambiguous social and cultural position of the black artist and political radical of the early twentieth century.
With stunning works by seminal black voices such as Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, and W.E.B. DuBois, Locke has constructed a vivid look at the new negro, the changing African American finding his place in the ever shifting sociocultural landscape that was 1920s America. With poetry, prose, and nonfiction essays, this collection is widely praised for its literary strength as well as its historical coverage of a monumental and fascinating time in the history of America.
This stirring coming-of-age tale unfolds in 1930s rural Kansas. A poignant portrait of African-American family life in the early twentieth century, it follows the story of young Sandy Rogers as he grows from a boy to a man. We meet Sandy's mother, Annjee, who works as a housekeeper for a wealthy white family; his strong-willed grandmother, Hager; Jimboy, Sandy's father, who travels the country looking for work; Aunt Tempy, the social climber; and Aunt Harriet, the blues singer who has turned away from her faith.
A fascinating chronicle of a family's joys and hardships, Not Without Laughter is a vivid exploration of growing up and growing strong in a racially divided society. A rich and important work, it masterfully echoes the black American experience.
Among his most famous works, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man in many ways parallels Johnson's own remarkable life. First published in 1912, the novel relates, through an anonymous narrator, events in the life of an American of mixed ethnicity whose exceptional abilities and ambiguous appearance allow him unusual social mobility — from the rural South to the urban North and eventually to Europe.
A radical departure from earlier books by black authors, this pioneering work not only probes the psychological aspects of "passing for white" but also examines the American caste and class system. The human drama is powerful and revealing — from the narrator's persistent battles with personal demons to his firsthand observations of a Southern lynching and the mingling of races in New York's bohemian atmosphere at the turn of the century.
Revolutionary for its time, the Autobiography remains both an unrivaled example of black expression and a major contribution to American literature.
Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet--at the center of the "Harlem Renaissance."
Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new introduction to The Big Sea, an American classic: "This is American writing at its best--simpler than Hemingway; as simple and direct as that of another Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."
Dr. Heidegger invites four friends to witness an experiment. As the impoverished merchant Mr. Medbourne, the gout-ridden sinner Colonel Killigrew, the ruined politician Mr. Gascoigne, and the aged widow Wycherly watch, Heidegger places an old rose in a vase filled with water drawn from the Fountain of Youth. When the rose blooms again, the elderly guests clamor to drink the water and relive their early years more soberly than they did the first time around. But wisdom rarely graces the young, and Heidegger’s test subjects soon discover that miracles won’t prevent them from behaving like fools all over again.
“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” is just one of the classic short stories collected in this indispensable volume. From “The Minister’s Black Veil” to “The Great Carbuncle” to “The May-Pole of Merry Mount,” Twice-Told Tales shines a brilliant light on the mysteries of the human heart. Its profound influence on American literature is a testament to the scope of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s vision and the genius of his craft.
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Ishmael Reed, one of today's top black satirists and the author of Mumbo Jumbo and Japanese by Spring, provides a spirited introduction.
Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's history-making quest. A tempestuous, earthy woman, she promises her heart to one man only to have it stolen, virtually on her weding day, by a passionate African freedom fighter.
Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou's eloquent prose -- her fondest dreams, deepest disappointments, and her dramatically tender relationship with her rebellious teenage son. Vulnerable, humorous, tough, Maya speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.
From the Paperback edition.
First produced in 1920, The Emperor Jones helped establish O'Neill's reputation as one of America's most important dramatists. Bold and expressionistic, the play was an instant success on the stage and has remained one of the staples of the dramatic repertoire. It is now available to a wide audience in this attractive, inexpensive Dover Thrift Edition.
This book is published by Booklassic which brings young readers closer to classic literature globally.
Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Amitav Ghosh's radiant second novel follows two families—one English, one Bengali—as their lives intertwine in tragic and comic ways. The narrator, Indian born and English educated, traces events back and forth in time, from the outbreak of World War II to the late twentieth century, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.
fifteen-year-old Amari has only one thing left of her own -- hope.
Amari's life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.
Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the illusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?
Publication of The Souls of Black Folk was a dramatic event that helped to polarize black leaders into two groups: the more conservative followers of Washington and the more radical supporters of aggressive protest. Its influence cannot be overstated. It is essential reading for everyone interested in African-American history and the struggle for civil rights in America.
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
This volume contains six stories from those collections as well as another superb selection, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux." In addition to the latter tale and the title story, this edition includes "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," "The Birthmark," "Rappaccini's Daughter," "Roger Malvin's Burial" and "The Artist of the Beautiful." Here are tales rich in atmosphere and suspense, with plots centering on subjects as diverse as witchcraft, revenge, the power of guilt, and a passion for the beautiful, all recounted in the distinctive voice of one of America's great writers.
An exciting and often terrifying adventure story, as well as an important precursor to such famous nineteenth-century slave narratives as Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative recounts his kidnapping in Africa at the age of ten, his service as the slave of an officer in the British Navy, his ten years of labor on slave ships until he was able to purchase his freedom in 1766, and his life afterward as a leading and respected figure in the antislavery movement in England. A spirited autobiography, a tale of spiritual quest and fulfillment, and a sophisticated treatise on religion, politics, and economics, The Interesting Narrative is a work of enduring literary and historical value.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A firm believer in the value of education as the best route to advancement, Washington disapproved of civil-rights agitation and in so doing earned the opposition of many black intellectuals. Yet, he is today regarded as a major figure in the struggle for equal rights, one who founded a number of organizations to further the cause and who worked tirelessly to educate and unite African Americans.
Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.
As Muldoon writes, "It's almost impossible to think of a world in which The Waste Land did not exist. So profound has its influence been not only on twentieth-century poetry but on how we’ve come to view the century as a whole, the poem itself risks being taken for granted." Famously elliptical, wildly allusive, at once transcendent and bleak, The Waste Land defined modernity after the First World War, forever transforming our understanding of ourselves, the broken world we live in, and the literature that was meant to make sense of it. In a voice that is arch, ironic, almost ebullient, and yet world-weary and tragic, T. S. Eliot mixes and remixes, drawing on a cast of ghosts to create a new literature for a new world. In the words of Edmund Wilson, "Eliot…is one of our only authentic poets…[The Waste Land is] one triumph after another."
Readers familiar with the later, more widely published versions of Leaves of Grass will find this first version of "Song of Myself" new, surprising, and often superior to the later versions — and exhilarating in the freshness of its vision. In this inexpensive edition, this enormously influential work will especially delight students, teachers, and any devotee of Walt Whitman.
As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.
HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs' harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like "garret" attached to her grandmother's porch.
A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman's determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.
First published in 1845, Narrativeof the Life of Frederick Douglass is an eye-opening depiction of American slavery. Part autobiography, part human-rights treatise, it describes the everyday horrors inflicted on captive laborers, as well as the strength and courage needed to survive.
Born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1818, Frederick Douglass spent years secretly teaching himself to read and write—a crime for which he risked life and limb. After two failed escapes, Douglass finally, blessedly boarded a train in 1838 that would eventually lead him to New York City, and freedom.
Few books have done more to change America’s notion of African Americans than this seminal work. Beyond its historical and social relevancy, it is admired today for its gripping stories, intensity of spirit, and heartfelt humanity.
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Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right. This edition collects all of the alternative endings together for the first time, along with early drafts of other essential passages, offering new insight into Hemingway’s craft and creative process and the evolution of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Featuring Hemingway’s own 1948 introduction to an illustrated reissue of the novel, a personal foreword by the author’s son Patrick Hemingway, and a new introduction by the author’s grandson Seán Hemingway, this edition of A Farewell to Arms is truly a celebration.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This edition presents the original twelve poems from Whitman's premier 1855 publication of Leaves of Grass. Included are some of the greatest poems of modern times: "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "There Was a Child Went Forth," works that continue to upset conventional notions of beauty and originality even today.
Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever. The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun."
"The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times. "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic." This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.
The Sun Also Rises is a classic example of Hemingway’s spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises is “an absorbing, beautifully and tenderly absurd, heartbreaking narrative…a truly gripping story, told in lean, hard, athletic prose” (The New York Times).
This new Hemingway Library Edition celebrates Hemingway’s classic novel with a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, the author’s sole surviving son, and a new introduction by Sean Hemingway, grandson of the author. Hemingway considered the extensive rewriting that he did to shape his first novel the most difficult job of his life. Early drafts, deleted passages, and possible titles included in this new edition elucidate how the author achieved his first great literary masterpiece.
All's Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
The Comedy of Errors
The Tragedie of Coriolanus
The Tragedie of Hamlet
The First Part of Henry the Fourth
The Second Part of Henry the Fourth
The Life of Henry the Fift
The first Part of Henry the Sixt
The second Part of Henry the Sixt
The third Part of Henry the Sixt
The Life of Henry VIII
The Tragedy of King Lear
The Tragedy of King Richard II
The Life and Death of King Richard III
A Lover's Complaint
Love's Labour's Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello, the Moor of Venice
The Passionate Pilgrim
The Rape of Lucrece
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Life of Timon of Athens
The Tragedie of Titus Andronicus
The History of Troilus and Cressida
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
VENUS AND ADONIS
The Winter's Tale
Illustrated with 10 unique illustrations.
In sublime poetry of extraordinary beauty, Milton's poem references tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid. But one need not be a classical scholar to appreciate Paradise Lost. In addition to its imaginative use of language, the poem features a powerful and sympathetic portrait of Lucifer, the rebel angel who frequently outshines his moral superiors. With Milton's deft use of irony, the devil makes evil appear good, just as satanic practices may seem attractive at first glance.
Paradise Lost has exercised enormous influence on generations of artists and their works, ranging from the Romantic poets William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley to Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Creation and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.