Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Story of Black

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Story of Black

Article excerpt

The Story of Black, by John Harvey. London: Reaktion Books, 2013, 336 pp. ISBN 9781780230849. £25.

Reaktion Books have often featured in these pages, surprisingly often for a publisher who makes no claims to a speciality in Africa.4 Their books and their series are often quirky in conception and inter-disciplinary in scope. They are characterised by quality of production and illustration (their books are nice to look at and to hold), lucid prose, unobtrusive scholarship and affordable prices. This volume is no exception. It is a history of the colour (if it can be termed a colour) Black in legend and literature, art, metaphor and symbolism with a little of the science of optics thrown in, drawn together by a polymathic Cambridge don with an academic background, studying the relations between the novel and visual art. There are over 100 illustrations, many in colour, a full panoply of endnotes and a select bibliography which enables follow up under the headings 'Colour and Sight, 'Colour and Culture', 'Culture and the Colour Black', 'Black Clothes' 'Black in the Arts', 'Black and Melancholy' and, inevitably and importantly, 'Race'. …

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