"THE PROBLEM OF THE 2OTH CENTURY IS THE PROBLEM OF THE COLOR LINE": FIRST EDITION OF DU BOIS' "MONUMENTAL" WORK, THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK, 1903
DU BOIS, W.E. Burghardt. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1903. Octavo, original black cloth, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition of W.E.B. Du Bois' profoundly influential history of the African American struggle—"a seminal work on African-American history, culture and politics"—in gilt-stamped original cloth.
Deemed "his greatest work… a hauntingly complex portrait of the Afro-American people, Souls of Black Folk blended history, sociology, memoir, biography and fiction so effectively that it became perhaps the most influential work on Blacks in America since Uncle Tom's Cabin." When Du Bois resigned from the NAACP (which he co-founded), it was said "he created, what never existed before, a Negro intelligentsia, and many who have never read a word of his writings are his spiritual disciples and descendants" (ANB). In the book's opening lines Du Bois declares, "with breathtaking prescience, 'The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line'" (New York Times). A "monumental" turning point in Black history, Souls of Black Folk speaks to his "eloquent purpose. Every page is filled with spirituality and with spontaneity" (Blockson, Commented Bibliography 52). It is "a seminal work on African-American history, culture and politics" (Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia, 968). On the night Du Bois died, then in exile in Ghana, 250,000 Americans were gathering at the Lincoln Memorial in the 1963 March on Washington. The next day, a deep silence fell over the stunned crowd when Roy Wilkins announced news of his death and declared: "his was the voice calling you to gather here today in this cause." First edition, first printing: with "Published April 18, 1903" on copyright page; no statement of edition or printings. As issued without dust jacket; a frontispiece appeared only in later editions. Partington 2333. See Blockson 4028 (third edition). Owner signature.
Text fine and fresh, rear inner hinge starting but sound, faintest edge-wear to bright gilt-stamped original cloth. A handsome, very scarce about-fine copy.