Cover image for Langston Hughes & the blues
Langston Hughes & the blues
Tracy, Steven C. (Steven Carl), 1954-
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xix, 305 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3515.U274 Z8 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3515.U274 Z8 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Drawing on an understanding of the shades and structures of the blues, this book elucidates the relationship between this musical form and the art of Langston Hughes, preeminent poet of the Harlem Renaissance. It shows how Hughes mined African-American oral and literary traditions to create his blues-inspired poetry.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Written from the perspective of a "blues purist," this useful study initiates a new phase of scholarship on Langston Hughes. Previous studies such as Richard Barksdale's Langston Hughes: The Poet and His Critics (CH, Jul '78), Onwuchekwa Jemie's Langston Hughes (CH, Oct '77), and Arnold Rampersad's masterful two volume literary biography (v.1, CH, Feb '87; v.2, 1988) have provided overviews of the poet's career. Tracy's investigation of the blues as a stylistic and thematic resource is a highly appropriate focus for the first book-length study of a particular aspect of Hughes's achievement. The strongest chapters of this book, which will be useful to students of many related topics, focus on definitions of the blues and on their position in Afro-American intellectual life during the Harlem Renaissance. Partly because he adopts the position of blues purists who prefer folk blues to related commercialized forms (jazz, soul, rock 'n' roll), Tracy limits the usefulness of his study by touching only briefly on the numerous poems in which Hughes employs a blues sensibility without using a blues form, In addition, Tracy gives little attention to the interaction of musical aesthetics with traditional prosodic devices. As a result, his readings of individual poems sometimes simplify Hughes's voice. Granted its narrow focus, however, Tracy's study establishes a high standard for future scholars of a major American writer. Levels: graduate and upper-division undergraduate. -C. Werner, University of Wisconsin--Madison