"TRACES OF AFRICA IN HAITI'S ANCIENT VODUN CEREMONIES": FIRST EDITION OF LANGSTON HUGHES' FIRST BOOK OF THE WEST INDIES, 1956
HUGHES, Langston. The First Book of the West Indies. New York: Franklin Watts, (1956). Square quarto, original yellow cloth, pictorial endpapers, original dust jacket. $550.
First edition of the fourth volume in Hughes' important series on Black history, centered on the cultural diversity of the West Indies, including a section on "famous men and women of West Indian birth" that includes Alexander Hamilton and author Claude McKay, with colorful illustrations by Robert Bruce.
In the space of one year, Hughes' First Book of the West Indies was published—along with his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander, and his Pictorial History of the Negro in America. That same year the Supreme Court's Browder v. Gayle decision on segregation of buses saw the conclusion of the 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycott. In many ways, it was a year that immersed Hughes in an examination of his own place in the complex and extraordinary span of Black history. This fourth volume in his "First Book" series accentuates the rich cultural history and diversity of Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and the Antilles. Hughes writes of the region's early pirate history, of Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, of Trinidad's vibrant calypso music, and "traces of Africa in Haiti's ancient vodun ceremonies." Wonderfully illustrated by Robert Bruce, the book also features a rear section on "famous men and women of West Indian birth"—a list that includes Alexander Hamilton, Claude McKay, Alexander Dumas and C.L.R. James—as well as a rear chart outlining the economic and cultural diversity of the West Indies. First edition: "First Printing" stated on copyright page. With illustrations by Robert Bruce. Bruccoli & Clark III:164. Rampersad, Life V.II:256.
A fine copy.