FIRST EDITION OF LANGSTON HUGHES' LAUGHING TO KEEP FROM CRYING, INSCRIBED BY HIM IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION
HUGHES, Langston. Laughing to Keep from Crying. New York: Henry Holt, (1952). Octavo, original half blue cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition of Hughes' major second collection of short fiction, boldly inscribed by him in the year of publication, "For J— and R— Howard, Sincerely, Langston Hughes, New York, April 6, 1952."
"More than any other American writer, Langston Hughes brought African American culture and traditions into American literature" (Oxford Encyclopedia, 237). Laughing to Keep from Crying, his first collection of short fiction in nearly two decades, highlights the finest aspects of his work: his "simple, direct, style, the thirst for social criticism, the balance between satire and comedy, the basic, easily recognizable plot line, and the ability to create 'everyman' characters" (Ostram, Langston Hughes). Its title, drawn from a blues lyric, especially speaks to how "Hughes was galvanized by the music of his people, whether blues, jazz, or religious… his specific commitment to depicting and strengthening the African American heartbeat in America… gave him a place of central importance in 20th-century African American literature and American literature generally" (Gates and Higginbotham, African American Lives, 420-22). On publication, the stories in Laughing won immediate praise as "highly successful… each is the work of a 'writer' in the finest sense of the word" (New York Times). "First edition" stated on copyright page. Containing 24 stories, many appearing in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Crisis, Esquire and Story.
Book fine; light edge-wear, toning to spine of extremely good dust jacket.