"THE WHOLE BOOK SINGS": FIRST EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE IN HARLEM, INSCRIBED BY LANGSTON HUGHES
HUGHES, Langston. Shakespeare in Harlem. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1942. Octavo, original half orange and black cloth, original dust jacket.
First edition of Hughes' major book of poetry—"a work of genuine talent and artistry"—inscribed by him,"For Doris L. Kaufmann, Sincerely, Langston Hughes."
"Shakespeare in Harlem was emphatically, unashamedly about being Black… resounding in its success as a representation of the lives and thoughts of the mass of Black Americans… In building this book of poems on the blues, Langston had returned to the inspiration for his greatest creative period." While Hughes was distressed over the design of the dust jacket, Van Vechten assured him: "The whole book sings with that kind of wistful loneliness you have made peculiarly your own" (Rampersad, Life V.I:390). On publication the Christian Science Monitor praised it as "'a work of genuine talent and skillful artistry." The Saturday Review of Literature noted: "rarely in our poetry do we find this subtle blending of tragedy and comedy. It is an exquisite art and a difficult one," and the Herald-Tribune reviewer especially "spoke of 'so sure a touch and an insight so genuine' in Hughes' brilliant gliding between exhilaration and despair" (Rampersad, Life V.II: 40-42). "First Edition" stated on copyright page. With frontispiece and 12 full-page illustrations after drawings by E. McKnight Kauffer. Bruccoli & Clark, 160. Blockson 6355.
Book fine; light edge-wear to very scarce near-fine dust jacket.