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Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore Hardcover – September 1, 2001
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From Library Journal
The literary darlings of African American society in their day, authors Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) and Alice Ruth Moore (1875-1935) were frequently compared to the Brownings. They were hailed as the "ideal pair," the model to which African American couples might aspire. In reality, however, their relationship was far from ideal: Dunbar, a heavy drinker and womanizer, raped Moore during their engagement and beat her during their marriage. This behavior finally led to their divorce in 1902. Alexander (history, Georgia Inst. of Technology) offers an engaging study of the couple's courtship and marriage in light of the social customs of the period, both within and outside the African American community. She demonstrates the deleterious effects of race, class, and gender on the concept of romantic love at the turn of the century, skillfully blending her analysis with the couple's letters, poems, and autobiographical statements, allowing them, for the most part, to tell their story in their own words. This book should appeal both to general readers and to scholars. Highly recommended. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
”Sexism, racism, self-hatred, and romantic love: all figure in prominently in this scholarly-but nicely hard-boiled-discussion of the bond between the famous Paul Laurence Dunbar and his wife Alice. Eleanor Alexander's analysis of turn-of-the-twentieth-century black marriage is required reading for every student of American, especially African-American, heterosexual relationships."-Nell Painter,Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University, author of Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol
"Tells a fascinating tale of two compelling figures whose lives were intriguing, at times harrowing, and in many ways tragic. At the same time, Alexander investigates a broader topic. . .A riveting narrative."-Martha Hodes
"Rich in documentation and generous in analysis, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow advances our understanding of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American social and cultural history in compelling and unexpected ways. By exposing the devastating consequences of unequal power dynamics and gender relations in the union of the celebrated writers, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, and by examining the hidden underside of the Dunbars' storybook romance where alcohol, sex, and violence prove fatal, Eleanor Alexander produces a provocative, nuanced interpretation of late Victorian courtship and marriage, of post-emancipation racial respectability and class mobility, of pre-modern sexual rituals and color conventions in an emergent elite black society."-Thadious M. Davis,Vanderbilt University
"Alexander's significant, welcome book gives us so much to think about in the moving story of two people, trying to find their way into the world and each other's lives."-The New York Times Book Review
"In examining what she calls the ‘tragic' courtship and marriage of poets Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, Alexander visits the private history of this public couple as a vehicle for writing an intimate social history. . . . a masterful analysis of middle-class African Americans."-Rosalyn Terborg-Penn,Morgan State University
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It is understandable if one says that she scratched upon surfaces that she did not follow through deeply, but it is important to keep in mind that she stated repeatedly that there was limited documentation and that she was merely trying to provide new possibilies that would stir more people to follow her lead and delve deeper.