RT Book, Whole DB /z-wcorg/ DS http://worldcat.org ID 27225221 LA English T1 Richard Wright : critical perspectives past and present A1 Gates, Henry Louis,, Appiah, Anthony., PB Amistad : Distributed by Penguin USA PP New York YR 1993 SN 1567430147 9781567430141 1567430279 9781567430271 AB Since the 1940s, when Richard Wright published his best-selling Native Son, he has been one of the most widely read writers of his time and after. Many of Wright's stories were accounts of racially motivated violence that shocked the public at the time of publication and forced his readers to be aware of the horrors of racism in America. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and K.A. Appiah, editors of Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present, selected reviews of Wright's work by his contemporaries and colleagues, such as Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Alain Locke - figures who now stand on their own in literary history. The editors join these reviews with essays by present-day scholars such as Houston Baker, Jr., author of Working of the Spirit and The Journey Back; Claudia Tate, author of Black Women Writers at Work; and Herbert Leibowitz, author of Fabricating Lives. This collection looks not only at Wright's seminal works of fiction, but at his nonfiction and autobiographical writings as well. Black Boy, published in 1945, is the first volume of Wright's autobiography and is "if not Wright's biggest book, it is perhaps his best, and surely his best written," according to Dan McCall of American Poetry Review. The second volume, American Hunger, he said, "deserved high marks for the quality of its prose, but lacks the brutal intensity of the Southern context to give that writing its coherence and sustained power ... American Hunger extends Black Boy without enlarging it." Students and fans of Wright cannot fully appreciate him as a writer or a man without acknowledging his political as well as literary life. Wright was a part of the communist movement and an expatriate. Claudia Tate wrote in the College Language Association journal that "when The Outsider appeared in 1953, even many of Wright's most supportive critics were disappointed by what they perceived to be the intrusion of his politics on his art. They contended that the novel was a literary contrivance based on foreign philosophy and left-wing political theory." Wright made direct connections between his political work and his artistic work. "Through a Marxist conception of reality and society the maximum degree of freedom in thought and feeling can be gained for the Negro writer," he said. Marxism, though, was no panacea for Wright; controversy followed him in that arena as well as every other he entered - from Mississippi to Europe and Africa. Wright drew on and opened himself up to many experiences at home and abroad as a writer and a man. From the publication of "Superstition" in Abbott's Monthly Magazine in 1931 until his death in 1960 and after, when both Eight Men and American Hunger were published, his accomplishments transcended the national and racial boundaries that were the grist for his creative mill. The enduring popularity of Richard Wright among lay readers and the academic community alike insures that Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present is an important addition to the body of American literary criticism and the newly launched Amistad Literary Series, which is devoted to literary criticism and fiction by and about African-American writers.