The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2

By Arnold Rampersad | Go to book overview

AFTERWORD

IN MY AFTERWORD to Volume I of this biography, I wrote about the origins of the project in a chance meeting one evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in I979 between myself and George and Ramona Bass. Not long after this meeting, I discovered the existence of a huge amount of correspondence and other material pertinent to a biography that Langston Hughes had left behind him. This archive was mainly in the James Weldon Johnson Collection founded by Carl Van Vechten, in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. I wrote of the invitation extended to me by George Bass, a professor of drama at Brown University who had been Hughes's secretary for some years and was now the executor-trustee of his estate, to write the story of Hughes's life. I wrote of my typical experiences as I made my way through the voluminous correspondence and other material, and also as I sought out individuals who had known Hughes personally or in other ways had acquired a vital knowledge of him or aspects of his life. Although I was familiar with some of his published work, I had never met Langston Hughes. I wrote, too, of my travels to places around the world that he had visited, as I searched for more evidence of his past. And I wrote about my search for models of biography that I considered appropriate to this particular life.

This was, after all, to be the story of an African-American born near the dawn of the century into relative poverty but with a stirring sense of historic obligation to the cause of social justice, especially for black Americans (an ancestor had died fighting alongside John Brown at Harpers Ferry). This young man, against the urging of his mercenary father, had decided to try to make his living as a writer, and thus become the first African-American to do so. Moreover, he would make central to his art the depiction of the features of black American culture and black Americans in general. Embracing his identity as a black man, he would also wor

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The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Life of Langston Hughes - I Dream a World *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Still Here 1941 3
  • 2 - Jim Crow''s Last Stand 1941 To 1943 32
  • 3 - Simple Speaks His Mind 1943 To 1944 61
  • 4 - Third Degree 1944 To 1945 88
  • 5 - Street Scene 1945 To 1947 108
  • 6 - Heart on the Wall 1947 To 1948 128
  • 7 - On Solid Ground 1948 To 1950 146
  • 8 - In Warm Manure 1951 To 1953 189
  • 9 - Out from under 1953 To 1956 223
  • 10 - Making Hay 1957 To 1958 263
  • 11 - You Are the World 1958 To 1960 288
  • 12 - Ask Your Mama! 1960 To 1961 314
  • 13 - In Gospel Glory 1961 To 1963 341
  • 14 - Blues for Mister Backlash 1963 To 1965 364
  • 15 - Final Call 1965 To 1966 386
  • 16 - Do Nothing till You Hear from Me 1966 To 1967 404
  • Afterword 426
  • Abbreviations 436
  • Notes 437
  • Acknowledgments 493
  • Index 499
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