"ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL FIGURES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE": PRESENTATION FIRST EDITION OF WAYS OF WHITE FOLKS, INSCRIBED BY LANGSTON HUGHES
HUGHES, Langston. The Ways of White Folks. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934. Octavo, original orange and black cloth.
First edition of Hughes' influential first collection of stories that "set a new standard of excellence for Black writers," inscribed by him in his trademark green ink, "For E— G— Sincerely, Langston Hughes, New York, Sept. 29, 1957."
This breakthrough work is "a brilliant collection of satirical short stories composed in the wake of Hughes' rift with his wealthy white patron, Charlotte Osgood Mason… with his recent literary successes abroad and his growing distance from Mason, Hughes was emboldened to write Ways of White Folks… riffing on W.E.B. Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk (1903) and Souls of White Folk in Darkwater (1920), Hughes' Ways of White Folks explores a range of fraught psychosexual, familial and financial transactions across the color line, demonstrating 'the condescension, paternalism and hypocrisy of whites nationwide'" (Retman, "Langston Hughes' 'Rejuvenation Through Joy,'" 593). On publication Herschel Brickell called these tales "some of the best stories that have appeared in this country in years." While Hughes had already achieved fame as a poet and was set to become "one of the essential figures in American literature… [he] avoided lyrical and highly polished prose in his stories… Hans Ostrom attributes the plain style of the stories to the African-American narrative tradition, and this idea is reinforced by Hughes' frequent quotations from spirituals and the blues." To his biographer Rampersad, these early stories ''set a new standard of excellence for Black writers" (New York Times). "First Edition" stated on copyright page. Containing 14 stories, including works serialized in Esquire, American Mercury, Scribner's and other publications. Without scarce dust jacket. Bruccoli & Clark, 159. See Blockson 6732. Bookplate of the recipient.
Text very fresh, mere trace of edge-wear to bright cloth. A handsome about-fine copy.