Charles Chesnutt Reappraised

Essays on the First Major African American Fiction Writer

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About the Book

One of the best known and most widely read of early African American writers, Charles W. Chesnutt published more than fifty short stories, six novels, two plays, a biography of Frederick Douglass, and countless essays, poems, letters, journals, and speeches. Though he had light skin and was of mixed race, Chesnutt self-identified as a black man, and his writing was often boldly political, openly addressing problems of racial identity and injustice in the late 19th century.
This collection of critical essays reevaluates the Chesnutt legacy, introducing new scholarship reflective of the many facets of his fiction, especially his sophisticated narrative strategies.

About the Author(s)

David Garrett Izzo is an emeritus professor of English who has published 16 books and 60 essays of literary scholarship, as well as three novels and two plays. He lives in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina.
Maria Orban is an assistant professor of English at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by David Garrett Izzo and Maria Orban
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4111-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8001-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction
MARIA ORBAN      1

1. Charles W. Chesnutt, Jack Thorne and the African American Literary Response to the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot
LINDA BELAU AND ED CAMERON      7
2. “The fruit of my own imagination”: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition in the Age of Realism
WILLIE J. HARRELL, JR.      26
3. “I shall leave the realm of fiction”: Conjure, Genre, and Passing in the Fiction of Charles W. Chesnutt
CHRISTOPHER BUNDRICK      42
4. “Those folks downstairs believe in ghosts”: The Eradication of Folklore in the Novels of Charles W. Chesnutt
WILEY CASH      69
5. The Fiction of Race: Folklore to Classical Literature
MARIA ORBAN      81
6. Charles W. Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars: An Outlaw(ed) Reading
COLEMAN C. MYRON      91
7. Reading the Transgressive Body: Phenomenology in the Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt
KIM KIRKPATRICK      100
8. “Your people will never rise in the world”: Chesnutt’s Message to a Black Readership
TYRIE J. SMITH      110
9. Vanished Past and Vanishing Point: Charles W. Chesnutt’s Short Stories and the Problem of American Historical Memory
ZOE TRODD      120
10. All Green with Epic Potential: Chesnutt Goes to the Marrow of Tradition to Re-Construct America’s Epic Body
GREGORY E. RUTLEDGE      131
11. “The Wife of His Youth”: A Trickster Tale
CYNTHIA WACHTELL      159
12. With Myriad Subtleties: Recognizing an Africanist Presence in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman
TIEL LUNDY      173
13. Passing for What? The Marrow of Tradition’s Minstrel Critique of the Unlawfulness of Law
JULIE IROMUANYA      188
14. Geographies of Freedom: Race, Mobility, and Uplift in Charles W. Chesnutt’s Northern Writing
MICHELLE TAYLOR      202
15. Motherhood, Martyrdom and Cultural Dichotomy in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars
B. OMEGA MOORE      214
Epilogue: The Gifts of Ambiguity
MICHELLE TAYLOR      219

About the Contributors      223
Index      227

Book Reviews

Sylvia Lyons Render Award—The Charles Waddell Chesnutt Association
“recommended”—Choice.