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The Life of Langston Hughes, 1902-1941: I, Too, Sing America Hardcover – June, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

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Rampersad, one of our foremost African-American scholars, is an apt biographer for Hughes (1902-67), our greatest black poet. I, Too, Sing America (volume 1) covers the years during which Hughes produced his best work and was most politically active; I Dream a World (volume 2) chronicles his artistic decline due to overwork in= response to perpetual financial difficulties. Both volumes are psychologically astute, critically penetrating and masterful in their intermingling of Hughes' story with a chronicle of the enormous changes that took place in black America during his lifetime. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"There can be no question about the importance of Rampersad's biography...without doubt the definitive Hughes biography."--James Olney, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge


"The best biography of Hughes ever written, and in my opinion it is also the best biography of a black American ever written."--Arna A. Bontemps, Hampton University


"Excellent....Mr. Rampersad [leaves] you eager to see what he makes of the rest of the story, and confident that his second volume will be as good as his first."--John Gross, The New York Times


"A near-perfect example of the biographer's art, balanced, and thought-provoking."--Kirkus Reviews


"This is a book I have waited half a lifetime for."--Alice Walker


"[An] exceptional biography."--Voice Literary Supplement


"Throughout this comprehensive and enthralling account of Hughes's life and his development as a writer, Rampersad offers a precise assessment of his work and its importance...This may be the best biography of a black writer we have had."--David Nicholson, The Washington Post Book World


"Absorbing....Readers can certainly applaud this beautifully-produced book and commend its scope."--American Literature


"An exquisite orchestration of the fully lived life."--Michael S. Harper, The Boston Globe


"A very fine first volume of a projected two-volume critical biography of Langston Hughes. Indeed, it is, by every measure, the best biography to date of a black literary figure....It is so well written that ordinary incidents and characters are well-meshed and, at times, almost seem to be creatively plotted....We eagerly await Rampersad's second volume of the Hughes biography. If it is as well-written and as authoritatively informative as this volume, the literary world will indeed be well served."--Resources for American Literary Study


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Replica Books (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735102716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735102712
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,322,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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And I, who am black, would love her But she spits in my face . . .
R. Wood
Rampersad biography is almost lyrical in its historical documentation of Hughes life like a number of biographies being written these days by certain scholars.
T. Kelley
It was very readable and made it quite easy to obtain the needed information for this important paper.
michael rochkind

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T. Kelley on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Long before the advent of the 1960's motto of black pride and black beauty, there was Langston Hughes who championed and celebrated black pride and black beauty, both African and black American, at the height racial inequality in the United States.

The two definitive biographies of Langston Hughes are written by Faith Berry, LANGSTON HUGHES: BEFORE AND BEYOND HARLEM, and, the two by Arnold Rampersad's, THE LIFE OF LANGSTON HUGHES VOLS. 1 AND 2. For those able to do it, I would recommend reading Berry's biography first and then DEFINITLY follow it by reading Rampersad two exquisite biographies of Hughes. Reading the two is the only real way to get a complete and accurate picture of Langston Hughes. Both books briefly address Hughes family background which isn't unique to him alone in the black American community as those non-persons of African decent on the outside repeatedly fail to understand. Both books address Hughes' humanity despite of the racism he faced as an extremely confident and proud African-American. Both acknowledge Hughes dislike of those blacks like Toomer ashamed of being black and their African heritage. Both reveal his living through all the moments in early 20th century American history like the Harlem Renaissance and meeting and befriending such figures as Dubois and facing McCarthy on charges of communism while punctuated moments of his life with wanderlust in world travels. Both books address the obstacles and triumphs he faced as being only the second black American to earn a living by writing , the first being Paul Lawrence Dunbar who was also Hughes idol and influence alongside Whitman and Sandburg.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judaye on July 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I learned that research can be used as a blessing and a way of connecting readers to life sustaining knowledge. Thank you Professor Rampersad for writing this book! Now I know what a great American Langston Hughes was and why he had so much influence over other writers such as Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, and Arna Bontemps, Claude Mckay, Dorothy West, and too many more to list.

Hughes was a world traveler and activist in addition to being a innovative writer of poems, essays, plays, and fiction, and a very respected member of the Harlem Renaissance of literature.

He travelled to Russia, Italy, Germany, West Africa, and Cuba while he was poor, young and colored. Hughes lived in Mexico and Paris, Harlem and San Franscisco. He was a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and personally knew many of the influential artists of his day.

Langston Hughes struggled to figure out if his work should be commercial or radical. He made some mistakes in his judgement of people and politics along the way, but somehow he always recovered. Unfortunately Hughes never did have much money despite all the work he contributed to the American canon, but he lived a magnificent, rich and full life.

What an outstanding American! I think this book should be required reading for all high schoolers. I cannot wait to read Volume II.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Wood on October 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
"'The Africans looked at me and would not believe I was a Negro': ...
`You - white man'," they said. Repudiating the idea that he was not one of them,
Hughes asserted "the unity of blacks everywhere." Hughes' choice to embrace
his African-American heritage is a major theme of Rampersad's biography.
Hughes rejected his father's path and the chance to pass, to escape prejudice
and win easy acceptance as a member of Mexican society. Poetic inspiration
came from Harlem, from Jazz, and from anger at prejudice. Despite, or because of
its format, with chapters divided by years, this book made riveting summer reading.
Along the way it introduced me to wonderful poetry in the context of the life:
-----
Mercedes is a jungle-lily in a death house.
Mercedes is a doomed star.
Mercedes is a charnel rose. ... ----
AND:
Passionate, cruel,
Honey-lipped, syphilitic -
That is the South.
And I, who am black, would love her
But she spits in my face . . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By zora97 on September 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the most complete writing on Hughes' life. Beautifully written yet very thorough. Arnold Rampersad is probably the most talented biographer alive.
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