"TO INTERPRET MY OWN PEOPLE THROUGH SONG AND STORY": 1901 FIRST EDITION OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR'S CANDLE-LIGHTIN' TIME, WITH NINE POEMS AND OVER 50 PHOTOGRAPHIC HALFTONES
DUNBAR, Paul Laurence. Candle-Lightin' Time. Illustrated with Photographs by the Hampton Institute Camera Club and Decorations by Margaret Armstrong. New York: Dodd Mead, 1901. Octavo, original decorative green cloth. $350.
First edition of this lovely volume in a series of illustrated poetry collections by Dunbar, "an important predecessor to the younger generation of poets of the Harlem Renaissance," containing nine poems and illustrated with 51 photographic halftones.
"Paul Laurence Dunbar's goal was 'to interpret my own people through song and story, and to prove to the many that after all we are more human than African'… Because he had no white ancestors, he was celebrated and scrutinized by the national media as a representative of his race. His charm and wit, his grace under pressure, and his ability as a speaker and author did much to give the lie to turn-of-the-century misconceptions about the racial inferiority of blacks" (ANB). Despite criticism by some for romanticizing plantation life, "Dunbar's work in dialect was overwhelmingly celebrated and adopted by his successors, particularly Langston Hughes… and today Dunbar's work has been accepted as… an important predecessor to the younger generation of poets of the Harlem Renaissance and a monumental fount of inspiration in the 20th-century African American literary tradition." The images accompanying Dunbar's nine poems in Candle-Lightin' Time were collectively made by "faculty members of the Hampton Institute Camera Club, most of them well-connected white Northerners," whose staged photographs were "largely made in African American communities in the environs of Hampton, Virginia" (Saperstein, in Pictures and Progress, 167-9). This was one of six illustrated collections of Dunbar's poetry. Without vanishingly scarce original dust jacket. Blockson 4941.
Interior clean and fine; light rubbing to spine head, pictorial cloth a bit toned. An extremely good copy.