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The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
First published anonymously in 1912, this resolutely unsentimental novel gave many white readers their first glimpse of the double standard -- and double consciousness -- that ruled the lives of black people in modern America. Republished in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man became a groundbreaking document of Afro-American culture; the first first-person novel ever written by a black, it became an eloquent model for later novelists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

Narrated by a man whose light skin enables him to "pass" for white, the novel describes a journey through the strata of black society at the turn of the century -- from a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from genteel aristocrats to the musicians who hammered out the rhythms of ragtime. The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man is a complex and moving examination of the question of race and an unsparing look at what it meant to forge an identity as a man in a culture that recognized nothing but color.
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First published anonymously in 1912, this resolutely unsentimental novel gave many white readers their first glimpse of the double standard -- and double consciousness -- that ruled the lives of black people in modern America. Republished in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man became a groundbreaking document of Afro-American culture; the first first-person novel ever written by a black, it became an eloquent model for later novelists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

Narrated by a man whose light skin enables him to "pass" for white, the novel describes a journey through the strata of black society at the turn of the century -- from a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from genteel aristocrats to the musicians who hammered out the rhythms of ragtime. The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man is a complex and moving examination of the question of race and an unsparing look at what it meant to forge an identity as a man in a culture that recognized nothing but color.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: December 17, 1989
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679727538
Other books byJames Weldon Johnson
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

    The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
    First published anonymously in 1912, The Autobiography of an Ex- Colored Man has electrified readers ever since with its stark portrayal of the color line in America and its daring modernist style. Now The Library of America presents an annotated centennial edition, introduced by National Book Award Winner Charles R. Johnson (Middle Passage).

    Fifty Years and Other Poems

    Fifty Years and Other Poems
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author whose work extended into politics, poetry, journalism, teaching, music and civil rights activism. He is most famous for his book "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man", which he published anonymously in 1912. Johnson's works deal with issues of race, particularly slavery, lynching, black rights and interracial relationships. His first collection of poetry, "Fifty Years and Other Poems", was published in 1913 to mark the fifty-year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The work was comprised of traditional and dialect poetry, and introduced arguments that would later be influential in the Civil Rights movement. The collection includes "Fifty Years," an homage to Abraham Lincoln, the protest poems "To America" and "Brothers," and a section entitled "Jingles and Croons" that touch on somewhat more temporal and humorous subjects, but continue to portray Johnson's serious, fervent beliefs.

    The Book of American Negro Poetry

    The Book of American Negro Poetry
    Revised Edition
    A landmark anthology of forty poets that brought serious attention to writers such as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes. The poetry, the prefaces, and Johnson’s critical notes have made this book a classic. Indices.

    Along This Way

    Along This Way
    The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson
    The autobiography of the celebrated African American writer and civil rights activist Published just four years before his death in 1938, James Weldon Johnson's autobiography is a fascinating portrait of an African American who broke the racial divide at a time when the Harlem Renaissance had not yet begun to usher in the civil rights movement. Not only an educator, lawyer, and diplomat, Johnson was also one of the most revered leaders of his time, going on to serve as the first black president of the NAACP (which had previously been run only by whites), as well as write the groundbreaking novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Beginning with his birth in Jacksonville, Florida, and detailing his education, his role in the Harlem Renaissance, and his later years as a professor and civil rights reformer, Along This Way is an inspiring classic of African American literature.

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