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The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics) Paperback – October 31, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Classics
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage classics ed edition (October 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679764089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679764083
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At last Hughes has gotten his first collected edition; it is overdue. The editors have attempted to collect every poem (860 in all) published by the writer in his lifetime, and have also provided a brief but informative introduction, a detailed chronology and extensive textual notes that include the original date and place of publication for each poem. In fact, this edition corrects the many errors and omissions of the standard Hughes bibliography, and the editors plan to update the text as more unpublished work surfaces. Although Hughes is best known for his poems celebrating African African life, he was also a passionately political poet who paid dearly for his communist affiliations and radical views. The chronological arrangement of the poems allows the reader to follow the course of Hughes's career-long political engagement, though probably Hughes will mainly be read for the clarity of his language, his wise humor and his insight into the human condition. BOMC selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Far more comprehensive than other collections of Hughes's poetry, this work was put together with the assistance of noted Hughes biographer Rampersad. [Reviewed on p. 80.]
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I felt his joy, his pain, as well as his strength.
Leticia A. Pugh "Tish"
I purchased this book when I had to write an essay on the poems of Langston Hughes.
LaurenAnn
This book is required reading for anyone who loves America, hip-hop or poetry.
Angie Livingstone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By T. Kelley on December 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For those who like and admire the poetic works of Langston Hughes, this is the book to purchase. This book collects all the "known" and "published" poems written by Hughes within his lifetime and at the different stages in his life. You have the so-called "race" poems that celebrate the dignity and beauty of black Americans, you have the poems of social protest such as those written during the 1930's that deal with inequality and injustice common to all regardless of race, the poems meant for children, and you even have the trite subject matter about love lost and found and springtime, nearly all written in the style of jazz and the blues that Hughes loved so much. Congrates must go to Arnold Rampersad and David Rossel for the effort in gathering these poems in their most current rendition as Hughes last wrote them. An effort was made by the editors to put the poems in the order they were written and published. A number of the poems were meant to be accompanied by jazz and blues music or read aloud in a specific way to drive home the point of the piece.

At first glance, all the poems collected in this book appear simple and straight foreward. But, Hughes was skilled at putting a lot of meaning into just a few lines of his work. An example are the poems "Cross" and "Mulatto" which tell how the mixed bloodlines of every decendent of the pure blooded African slave and European came to exist today in modern black America and how prejudice denied them the right to claim all their heritages (political correct stereotypes, labels, are doing the same today!!!). My favorite of the poems here is "Dream Variation." Carl Van Vetchen truncated some of the poem in his introduction to the the WEARY BLUES, the first book by Hughes.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By LaurenAnn on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book when I had to write an essay on the poems of Langston Hughes. I will refer to and enjoy this book forever. The poems of Langston Hughes are timeless and poignant; sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting. I firmly believe that some of his poems should be required reading for ALL Americans. If you're a fan of Hughes, add this book to your collection-- you'll have almost every poem he ever wrote at your fingertips. If you haven't been introduced to the illustrious Langston Hughes, you will not regret picking up this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zach Powers on January 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of Hughes work, but was not aware of how much he had written until I got this collection. It is too bad that Hughes is often labeled as a "Harlen Renaissance" poet and then dismissed, because his poetry still holds meaning today for anyone willing to hear it. Hughes states his universal truths in an American voice, while at the same time exposing the flaws of American society (flaws which in many ways still exist today as much as they did in the 20's, 30's and 40's).
This is great poetry, and I still read from it again and again. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Berek on July 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Langston Hughes has been called "the Shakespeare of Harlem." The quality of his poems are certainly worthy of comparison to the Bard's Sonnets. I would add one more nickname: "the Walt Whitman of Harlem." Langston Hughes, as other reviewers have stated, was also very much a poet of the people, not just African American but all Americans. Langston Hughes's poetry sheds a powerful light on the Black experience in all its complexities, from every perspective. This book is "must reading" for anyone wanting to learn more about the people and cultures of the United States, and its debt to people of African descent.

Included in this masterful anthology are essays on the life of Langston Hughes and his poetry. The primary poems are divided by decades; other work is included in three appendices. The first appendix comprises poems circulated by the Associated Negro Press but were never part of the general canon. The second appendix contains poetry for children, though readers interested in this area will want to acquire a copy of Hughes's "Black Misery." The third appendix includes additional poems attributed to Langston Hughes and whos authenticity has been confirmed since the first edition of the "Collected Poems of Langston Hughes."

My only complaint with this book is not with its contents but the flimsy soft cover. A more substantial cover is a necessity, for this is a book that I, like so many other people, turn to over and over again.

It is easy to take for granted how much of American culture has its roots in African-American culture, especially literature and music. If you are looking for an example of this notion, you have come to the right place.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arch Llewellyn on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Langston Hughes's fascinating career reads like a snapshot of the 20th century. In the 1920s as part of the Harlem Renaissance, he was among the first to bring black musical idioms into serious American verse; with the onset of the Depression he embraced Communism (sort of) as a solution to racism and social injustice; in the 1940s he threw himself into the fight against Fascism, urging African Americans to support the war as a means of defeating prejudice at home; in the 1950s he paid the price for his Soviet sympathies as McCarthy & Co. hounded his career; in the 1960s he lived to see the first stirrings of the Civil Rights movement and the more radical varieties of black activism, which he didn't entirely understand or approve of.

The five decades' worth of Hughes's poetry collected here reflects all these changes, and Hughes biographer Arnold Rampersad ably edits, introduces and footnotes the poems to help show how Hughes responded to his times. I wish I liked Hughes's poetry better; despite a handful of classics like "Harlem [2]" ("what happens to a dream deferred?") and "The Weary Blues," which sound very weary indeed almost a century on, Hughes's efforts to shoehorn black speech and the complex intensities of blues and jazz into conventional free verse feel a little stodgy and irrelevant now. Maybe it's because African American culture is so widely accepted today as a vital part of American life that Hughes's poetry seems less important, though it's surely part of his legacy that we think that way.

I wonder what kind of verse Hughes would be writing today in the face of hip hop and the ongoing American wrestle with racism and inner city poverty. I guess just wondering that is a measure of his importance.
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