The Souls of Black Folk

ISBN : 9780199555833

W. E. B. Du Bois; Brent Hayes Edwards
272 Pages
130 x 198 mm
Pub date
Oct 2008
Oxford World's Classics
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  • One of the best known works of African American literature, The Souls of Black Folk contains a remarkable mix of generic forms, including history, memoir, philosophy, biography, and fiction, to examine the situation of African Americans in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century.
  • This edition reproduces the first edition text of 1903 and includes an introduction that outlines Du Bois's careful construction of the book, and its seminal contribution to the development of the African American literary tradition. Detailed explanatory notes provide contextual information, and are especially informative on Du Bois's use of musical fragments from Negro spirituals as epigraphs to each chapter.
  • Appendix of useful contextualizing material contains: Du Bois's 1897 essay, 'The Conservation of Races'; his 1900 speech 'To the Nations of the World' from the first Pan-American Conference; his 1903 essay 'The Talented Tenth'; his one-page self-review of Souls, and his introduction to the fiftieth anniversary edition of the work in 1953.

'The problem of the twentieth-century is the problem of the color-line.'
Originally published in 1903, The Souls of Black Folk is a classic study of race, culture, and education at the turn of the twentieth century. With its singular combination of essays, memoir, and fiction, this book vaulted W. E. B. Du Bois to the forefront of American political commentary and civil rights activism. The Souls of Black Folk is an impassioned, at times searing account of the situation of African Americans in the United States. Du Bois makes a forceful case for the access of African Americans to higher education, memorably extols the achievements of black culture (above all the spirituals or 'sorrow songs'), and advances the provocative and influential argument that due to the inequalities and pressures of the 'race problem', African American identity is characterized by 'double consciousness'.
This edition includes a valuable appendix of other writing by Du Bois, which sheds light on his attitudes and intentions. 
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About the author: 

W. E. B. Du Bois
Edited by Brent Hayes Edwards, Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University
Brent Edwards writes widely on literature and jazz, and has translated work by Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard, armong others. He is the author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard UP, 2003), winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association. He co-edited, with Robert O'Meally and Farah Griffiths, the collection Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia UP, 2004).

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