Cover image for An anthology of interracial literature : Black-white contacts in the Old World and the New
An anthology of interracial literature : Black-white contacts in the Old World and the New
Sollors, Werner.
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 675 pages ; 26 cm
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Format :


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PN6071.B57 A58 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A white knight meets his half-black half-brother in battle. A black hero marries a white woman. A slave mother kills her child by a rapist-master. A white-looking person of partly African ancestry passes for white. A master and a slave change places for a single night. An interracial marriage turns sour. The birth of a child brings a crisis. Such are some of the story lines to be found within the pages of An Anthology of Interracial Literature.

This is the first anthology to explore the literary theme of black-white encounters, of love and family stories that cross--or are crossed by--what came to be considered racial boundaries. The anthology extends from Cleobolus' ancient Greek riddle to tormented encounters in the modern United States, visiting along the way a German medieval chivalric romance, excerpts from Arabian Nights and Italian Renaissance novellas, scenes and plays from Spain, Denmark, England, and the United States, as well as essays, autobiographical sketches, and numerous poems. The authors of the selections include some of the great names of world literature interspersed with lesser-known writers. Themes of interracial love and family relations, passing, and the figure of the Mulatto are threaded through the volume.

An Anthology of Interracial Literature allows scholars, students, and general readers to grapple with the extraordinary diversity in world literature. As multi-racial identification becomes more widespread the ethnic and cultural roots of world literature takes on new meaning.

Contributors include: Hans Christian Andersen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles W. Chesnutt, Lydia Maria Child, Kate Chopin, Countee Cullen, Caroline Bond Day, Rita Dove, Alexandre Dumas, Olaudah Equiano, Langston Hughes, Victor Hugo, Charles Johnson, Adrienne Kennedy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Guy de Maupassant, Claude McKay, Eugene O'Neill, Alexander Pushkin, and Jean Toomer.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Sollors (English literature & Afro-American studies, Harvard) has compiled the first scholarly anthology that centers on the theme in literature of love and family across, or crossed by, racial boundaries. As Sollors explains in the introduction, "It is a theme that makes for unusual intersections of the plots of love and family relations with issues of society and politics." The anthology contains a broad range of texts, including epics, poems, and novellas, and spans numerous cultures from the ancient to the contemporary. The authors included range from Hans Christian Andersen and Alexander Pushkin to Eugene O'Neill and Gwendolyn Brooks. One is reminded that color was an accidental quality in antiquity and the Christian Middle Ages; that during later times, censure existed; and that, in the United States in particular, interracial marriage bans were not deemed unconstitutional until 1967. As stated in a Rita Dove play: "A sniff of freedom's all it takes to feel history's sting." Recommended for academic libraries and for any reader working around the race rubric.-Scott Hightower, Fordham Univ., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The scope of this collection is impressive. It ranges from an ancient Greek riddle through medieval epic poetry, the literatures of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the 19th century to the Harlem Renaissance, modernism, and the contemporary scene (including a novel in progress). The epic historical and geographic panorama finds almost every genre represented: poetry, drama, short fiction, the novel. Sollors (Harvard) divides the material into eight historical/thematic sections, prefacing each with brief introductory comments. Preceding each entry is another brief biographical/historical note to give the reader some background. Given the wide range of materials, the introduction is invaluable, providing much-needed context. Even so, the collection's strengths contain the seeds of its limitations--lots of material, not quite enough information about it. For example, the introduction to the Harlem Renaissance and modernism section not only collapses the two distinct movements into each other but stops short of careful consideration of the nature of interracial literature of the period, relying instead on descriptive comments. Still, the volume's topic and scope make it a valuable resource. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. E. Rodriguez y Gibson University of Redlands