Chapter 7: Early Twentieth Century
and Modernism

Richard Wright
1908-1960

© Paul P. Reuben
June 23, 2014
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Outside Links: | RW's Life | Jim Crow Museum | The Mississippi Writers Page - RW |

Page Links: | Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Chap. 7: Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page |


Source:
The Mississippi Writers Page - RW 

The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever. No matter how much qualifying the book might later need, it made impossible a repetition of old lies." - Irving Howe
Richard Wright has the distinction of being the first African-American author whose work appeared on the national bestseller lists. Native Son was an instant success and sold a quarter of a million copies in its first month of publication, and, together with Black Boy, established Wright as a writer of power and intensity. His prose captures the lyrical black dialect and paints unforgettable pictures of the deep South and of Chicago of the 1930s.

Primary Works

Uncle Tom's Children: Four Novellas, 1938; Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States, 1941; Native Son, 1940; Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth, (E-Text),1945; The Outsider, 1953; Savage Holiday, 1954; The Long Dream, 1958; Eight Men, 1961; Lawd Today, 1963; White Man, Listen!, 1957; American Hunger, 1977.

Early Works: Lawd Today!; Uncle Tom's Children; Native Son. Rampersad, Arnold (ed. and notes). NY: Library of America, 1991.

Later Works: Black Boy (American Hunger), The Outsider. Rampersad, Arnold (ed. and notes). NY: Library of America, 1991.

| Top | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Abernathy, Jeff. To Hell and Back: Race and Betrayal in the Southern Novel. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2003.

Algeo, Ann M. The Courtroom as Forum: Homicide Trials by Dreiser, Wright, Capote, and Mailer. NY: Peter Lang, 1996.

Brachner, Mark. Literature and Social Justice: Protest Novels, Cognitive Politics, and Schema Criticism. Austin: U of Texas P, 2013.

Brewton, Butler E. Richard Wright's Women: The Thematic Treatment of Women in Uncle Tom's Children, Black Boy and Native Son. NY: Academica, 2010.

Brivic, Sheldon. Tears of Rage: The Racial Interface of Modern American Fiction: Faulkner, Wright, Pynchon, Morrison. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008.

Campbell, James. Exiled in Paris: Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, and Others on the Left Bank. Berkeley: U of California P, 2003.

Davis, Charles T. and Michel Fabre. Richard Wright: A Primary Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982. Z8986.323 .D38

Drake, Kimberly S. Subjectivity in the American Protest Novel. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Ellis, Aimé J. If We Must Die: From Bigger Thomas to Biggie Smalls. Detroit, MI: Wayne State UP, 2011.

Fabre, Michel. The World of Richard Wright. Jackson: U of P of Mississippi, 1985. PS3545 .R815 Z65133

Felgar, Robert. Richard Wright. Boston: Twayne, 1980. PS3545.R815 Z6517

- - -. Student Companion to Richard Wright. Westport: Greenwood, 2000.

Folks, Jeffrey J. From Richard Wright to Toni Morrison: Ethics in Modern and Postmodern American Narrative. NY: Peter Lang, 2001.

Fowler, Doreen. Drawing the Line: The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2013.

Green, Tara T. A Fatherless Child: Autobiographical Perspectives on African American Men. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2009.

Hakutani, Yoshinobu. Critical Essays on Richard Wright. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982. PS3545.R815 Z62

- - -. Richard Wright and Racial Discourse. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1996.

Hricko, Mary. The Genesis of the Chicago Renaissance: Theodore Dreiser, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and James T. Farrell. NY: Routledge, 2009.

JanMohamed, Abdul R. The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright's Archaeology of Death. Durham: Duke UP, 2005.

Kostelanetz, Richard. Politics in the African-American Novel: James Weldon Johnson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison. NY: Greenwood, 1991.

Kiuchi, Toru. Richard Wright: A Documented Chronology, 1908-1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.

Macksey, Richard and Frank E. Moorer, eds. Richard Wright, a Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1984. PS3545 .R815 Z815

Miller, Eugene E. Voice of a Native Son: The Poetics of Richard Wright. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1990. PS 3545 .R815 Z77

Miller, R. Baxter. On the Ruins of Modernity: New Chicago Renaissance from Wright to Fair. Champaign, IL: Common Ground, 2012.

Relyea, Sarah. Outsider Citizens: The Remaking of Postwar Identity in Wright, Beauvoir, and Baldwin. NY: Routledge, 2006.

Tuhkanen, Mikko. The American Optic: Psychoanalysis, Critical Race Theory, and Richard Wright. Albany: State U of New York P, 2009.

Weiss, M. Lynn. Gertrude Stein and Richard Wright: The Poetics and Politics of Modernism. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1998.

Study Questions

1. Is Dave's intended flight at the end of "Almos' a Man" dramatically credible? What happens in the story that supports such a development in his character. Notice the description of him at the end of the story. Consider his recovery of the gun, the crowd's reaction to his shooting Jenny, and his future indebtedness to Hawkins.

2. James Baldwin criticized Bigger Thomas, the protagonist of Native Son, as being too limited a character to stand for black men's problems. Does Thomas represent a recognizable racial condition in this story? Which aspect of his character seems more significant, his race or his youth?

3. Although Wright's work appeared later than the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, he reflects some of their concerns. Trace the theme of manhood in poems by Sterling Brown and Wright's "The Man Who Was Almost a Man." What do these writers tell us about manhood as an American experience?

4. Compare and contrast Richard Wright's story with Zora Neale Hurston's prose. Are these writers exploring race or gender, or both?

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 7: Richard Wright." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL:http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/wright.html (provide page date or your date of logon). 
 

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