"IT SWINGS, LIKE A GOOD JAZZ TUNE": FIRST EDITION OF SIMPLE STAKES A CLAIM, INSCRIBED BY LANGSTON HUGHES
HUGHES, Langston. Simple Stakes a Claim. New York and Toronto: Rinehart & Company, (1957). Octavo, original gray cloth, original dust jacket. $2800.
First edition of the third book starring Hughes' "funny, sharp and indignant" hero, Jesse B. Semple, a lovely presentation copy with a warm inscription by Hughes in his characteristic green ink, "Inscribed for the Abbotts—on a cold day in a warm house—Sincerely, Langston Hughes, Linwood, January 10, 1958."
"Following an invitation to the writers' colony Yaddo… [Hughes] contacted the Chicago Defender about being a columnist and was hired. In 1943 he created the beloved comic character Jesse B. Semple ('Simple')… who appeared in many of his Defender columns over the next 20 years" (ANB). This is the third novel in his series that featured Simple: "one of the more original comic creations in American journalism" (African American Writers, 169). To Hughes, "Simple personifies the genius of the Black folk for self-redemption in the face of adversity." Simple Stakes a Claim "is funny and sharp and indignant… it swings, like a good jazz tune" (New York Times).
Here and throughout the series, "Hughes combined powerful rhetoric with down-home humor to attack or reflect the conditions of African Americans at the time. He was eloquent and clear—and no injustice escaped his literary wrath" (Chicago Literary Hall of Fame). First edition, first printing: with Rinehart colophon of an encircled "R" above the copyright. "The 'Simple' books are very much in demand in their first editions" (Weinstein, 23; emphasis added). Blockson 6380. Bruccoli III:165. Hughes inscribed this copy the same month he gave a reading of his work in Buffalo, N.Y, which is not far from Linwood, where Hughes writes herein of his welcome at "the Abbotts on a cold day in a warm house." While we have not been able to fully verify the identity of the Abbotts, Hughes' biographer Arnold Rampersad notes: "Bitterly cold weather in Buffalo, New York, where Langston read early in January, sent him with a severe attack of influenza into Mt. Morris Hospital in Manhattan" (Life, V.II, 279). Later that month, fully recovered, Hughes delivered the manuscript for his Book of Negro Folklore to his publisher.
Book fine; lightly toned spine to bright about-fine dust jacket.