- Series: American Century Series
- Paperback: 335 pages
- Publisher: Hill and Wang; Second edition (August 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809015498
- ISBN-13: 978-0809015498
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Big Sea: An Autobiography (American Century Series) Paperback – August 1, 1993
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“Langston Hughes is the Jazz Poet! The constant communicator of Blues. He is the singer, philosopher, the folk and urban lyricist. This book is the chronicle of a bright and lively artistic ear that brought the African-American people full into the twentieth century. It is a wonderful book!” ―Amiri Baraka
About the Author
Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, went to Cleveland, Ohio, lived for a number of years in Chicago, and long resided in New York City's Harlem. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1929 and was awarded an honorary Litt. D. in 1943. He was perhaps best known as a poet and the creator of Simple, but he also wrote novels, biography, history, plays (several of them Broadway hits), and children's books, and he edited several anthologies. Mr. Hughes died in 1967.
Arnold Rampersad, author of the widely acclaimed biography The Life of Langston Hughes, is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and director of American Studies at Princeton University.
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Showing 1-8 of 38 reviews
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I knew his poetry, of course, from all those years as an English major. I have not had the occasion to read any of his prose, and decided to pick this up after reading the collected works of Nella Larsen.
There was a lot to engage with in The Big Sea. I particularly liked Hughes' description of the Harlem Renaissance. His tone when he talked about it was affectionate and wistful, but still acknowledged the limitations that it had as a lasting solution. There were many great stories ("never hit a woman") and fascinating details-- reproductions of the whist party invitations, for example.
I also really was interested in the way that Hughes discusses his father and the issue of the race. His father left the US (first to Cuba, then to Mexico) in order to avoid race prejudice. His father had nothing but scorn for people of color who stayed in the US and subjected themselves to the inevitabilities of race and class limitations. The anger that this self-imposed exile cost him comes out in his dealings with his son and the way in which he engages with the world around him.
At points, it is as though Hughes is meditating on all the different ways that people around him (including him) have used to address the race problem. It is not the most uplifting of sketches, since none of the various paths seem (according to Hughes) to be a good or lasting solution.
Well-written, interesting, and with many pointers to further reading.