The Collected Works of Langston Hughes - Vol. 16


Creative writers have often commented that the imaginative process enables them to find comfort, healing, and restoration from the wounds of life. The dark thread of pain and suffering courses like the "flow of human blood in human veins" through the works of Langston Hughes -- saturating his essays, librettos, newspaper articles, novels, plays, poems, and short stories But this darkness is ultimately transformed by catharsis. Hughes was not a translator by profession, and he was definitely aware that to translate can be to betray. Moreover, when this passionately shy North American author engaged the works of several of his internationally acclaimed colleagues, he saw translation not as an end in itself, but as a means to something larger than his own life and works.

Hughes was concerned about the similarity of his experiences with those of writers from other cultures. His perennial longing for submersion into the "Big Sea" of black life -- whether in the Americas, Europe, Asia, or Africa -- prompted him,to build bridges between himself and a national/international circle of writers. One of the most effective ways of doing so was to translate works by authors with whom he felt intimately connected and whose cultures illustrated essential correspondences with his own.

Bodas de sangre (1933), by the Spanish poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who was brutally assassinated in 1936, is the story of a bridegroom and lover who fight to the death over the bride-to-be. Part of Hughes's therapy for the emotional scars and wounds that festered in his life was to make accessible a vital work by this Spanish writer who had also experienced alienation and marginality.

The poems by NicolasGuillen that Hughes and Ben Frederic Carruthers translated as Cuba Libre (1948) reveal the mutual admiration and respect between Guillen and Hughes, but they also illustrate Hughes's affirmation of self, family, and communit

Additional information

  • 16
Includes content by:
  • Arnold Rampersad
  • Ben Frederic Carruthers
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Columbia, MO
Publication year:
  • 2003


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