The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader

The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader

The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader

The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader


This reader reprints The Souls of Black Folk in its entirety along with all of the later work Darkwater. The collection includes a range of DuBois's writing over the course of his lifetime, showing the evolution of this thinking on major issues such as history, biography, segration and education, literature and art, and representative essays on the relation betweem black Americans and Africa.


At the outset of his last sustained autobiographical writing, a work undertaken in the late 1950s but published posthumously in 1968, W. E. B. Du Bois, having just provided a capsule summary of his recent invigorating trip to the Soviet Union and China, offers the following reflection on his work:

I mention this trip in some detail because it was one of the most important trips that I had ever taken, and had wide influence on my thought. To explain this influence, my Soliloquy becomes an autobiography. Autobiographies do not form indisputable authorities. They are always incomplete, and often unreliable. Eager as I am to put down the truth, there are difficulties; memory fails especially in small details, so that it becomes finally but a theory of my life, with much forgotten and misconceived, with valuable testimony but often less than absolutely true, despite my intention to be frank and fair.

Who and what is this I, which in the last year looked on a torn world and tried to judge it? Prejudiced I certainly am by my twisted life; by the way in which I have been treated by my fellows; by what I myself have thought and done. I have passed through changes by reason of my growth and willing; by my surroundings without; by knowledge and ignorance. What I think of myself, now and in the past, furnishes no certain document proving what I really am. Mostly my life today is a mass of memories with vast omissions, matters which are forgotten accidentally or by deep design.

Taking note of the remarkable ideological gulf between the views presented in his most recent autobiography, Dusk of Dawn, some twenty years earlier and those of the Autobiography, conceived at the height of the cold war and Du Bois's estrangement from the United States, he adds: "One must then see these varying views as contradictions to truth, and not as final and complete authority. This book then is the Soliloquy of an old man on what he dreams his life has been as he sees . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.