Anthology Interracial Literature

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A white knight meets his half-black half-brother in battle. A black hero marries a white woman. A slave mother kills her child by a rapist-master. A white-looking person of partly African ancestry passes for white. A master and a slave change places for a single night. An interracial marriage turns sour. The birth of a child brings a crisis. Such are some of the story lines to be found within the pages of An Anthology of Interracial Literature.

This is the first anthology to explore the literary theme of black-white encounters, of love and family stories that cross—or are crossed by—what came to be considered racial boundaries. The anthology extends from Cleobolus' ancient Greek riddle to tormented encounters in the modern United States, visiting along the way a German medieval chivalric romance, excerpts from Arabian Nights and Italian Renaissance novellas, scenes and plays from Spain, Denmark, England, and the United States, as well as essays, autobiographical sketches, and numerous poems. The authors of the selections include some of the great names of world literature interspersed with lesser-known writers. Themes of interracial love and family relations, passing, and the figure of the Mulatto are threaded through the volume.

An Anthology of Interracial Literature allows scholars, students, and general readers to grapple with the extraordinary diversity in world literature. As multi-racial identification becomes more widespread the ethnic and cultural roots of world literature takes on new meaning.

Contributors include: Hans Christian Andersen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles W. Chesnutt, Lydia Maria Child, Kate Chopin, Countee Cullen, Caroline Bond Day, Rita Dove, Alexandre Dumas, Olaudah Equiano, Langston Hughes, Victor Hugo, Charles Johnson, Adrienne Kennedy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Guy de Maupassant, Claude McKay, Eugene O'Neill, Alexander Pushkin, and Jean Toomer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thanks again to Werner Sollors for oxygenating our thoughts on race and identity, and their relationship to that holy dunce, the literary imagination. Intelligently multicultural, this compendium provokes and entertains even as it exposes still-live nerves. Sollors' scholarship is erudite but relevant; his choices speak with tactful passion about matters which touch us all."

-Gish Jen,author of Mona in the Promised Land

"The scope of this collection is impressive. The introduction is invaluable, providing much-needed context. The volume's topic and scope make it a valuable resource."


"No one has done more important work to place interracial association at the center of American culture than Werner Sollors. This extraordinarily rich anthology is an excellent addition to the study of this fascinating subject."

-Randall Kennedy,author of Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity & Adoption

"The first in English devoted to work that Mr. Sollors says has typically been overlooked, an orphan literature belonging to no clear ethnic or national tradition."

-New York Times

Library Journal
Sollors (English literature & Afro-American studies, Harvard) has compiled the first scholarly anthology that centers on the theme in literature of love and family across, or crossed by, racial boundaries. As Sollors explains in the introduction, "It is a theme that makes for unusual intersections of the plots of love and family relations with issues of society and politics." The anthology contains a broad range of texts, including epics, poems, and novellas, and spans numerous cultures from the ancient to the contemporary. The authors included range from Hans Christian Andersen and Alexander Pushkin to Eugene O'Neill and Gwendolyn Brooks. One is reminded that color was an accidental quality in antiquity and the Christian Middle Ages; that during later times, censure existed; and that, in the United States in particular, interracial marriage bans were not deemed unconstitutional until 1967. As stated in a Rita Dove play: "A sniff of freedom's all it takes to feel history's sting." Recommended for academic libraries and for any reader working around the race rubric.-Scott Hightower, Fordham Univ., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814781432
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2004
  • Pages: 675
  • Product dimensions: 1.44 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies and Chair of the History of American Civilization Program at Harvard University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature, Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader, and Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature, all available from NYU Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 "Riddle" (5th century B.C.) 7
2 From Parzival (1197-1210) 8
3 From The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night 57
4 From Il Novellino (1475) 69
5 From Hecatommithi (1565) 85
6 "The Beautiful Slave-Girl" (1614) 97
7 "A Negress Courts Cestus, a Man of a Different Colour" (1633) 99
8 "A Faire Nimph Scorning a Black Boy Courting Her" (1658) 101
9 "The Inversion" (1657), "One Enamour'd on a Black-moor" (1657), "A Black Nymph Scorning a Fair Boy Courting Her" (1657) 103
10 "To Mrs. Diana Cecyll" (1665), "The Brown Beauty" (1665), "Sonnet of Black Beauty (1665), "Another Sonnet to Black It Self" (1665) 107
11 "In Laudem Aethiopissae" (1778) 110
12 The Isle of Pines (1668) 115
13 From Oroonoko: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1696) 132
14 "On a Young Lady's Weeping at Oroonooko" (1732), "To a Gentleman in Love with a Negro Woman" (1732) 143
15 Two Versions of the Story of Inkle and Yarico 145
16 The Dying Negro (1773) 152
17 Letter to James Tobin (1788) 161
18 The Engagement in Santo Domingo (1811) 167
19 Ourika (1823) 189
20 The Blackamoor of Peter the Great (1827-1828) 208
21 "The Quadroons" (1842) 232
22 From Georges (1843) 240
23 From Beyond the Seas (1863-1864) 253
24 "The Quadroom Girl" (1842) 278
25 "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" (1848) 280
26 "The Pilot's Story" (1860) 288
27 From Mulatto: An Original Romantic Drama in Five Acts (1840) 292
28 The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana: A Play in Five Acts (1859) 300
29 From Black and White: A Drama in Three Acts (1869) 337
30 From Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro (1863) 350
31 Madame Delphine (1881) 383
32 From "The Pariah" (1895) 421
33 "Boitelle" (1889) 424
34 "The Father of Desiree's Baby" (1893) 431
35 "Uncle Wellington's Wives" (1899) 436
36 "The Mulatto to His Critics" (1918) 461
37 "The Octoroon" (1922), "Cosmopolite" (1922), "The Riddle" (1925) 462
38 From The Vengeance of the Gods (1922) 464
39 "Hope" (1922) 473
40 "Withered Skin of Berries" (1923) 476
41 "Confession" (1929) 498
42 All God's Chillun Got Wings (1924) 504
43 "Near White" (1925), "Two Who Crossed a Line" (1925) 530
44 "Cross" (1925), "Mulatto" (1927), Mulatto: A Tragedy of the Deep South (1935) 532
45 "The Mulatto" (1925), "Near-White" (1932) 559
46 "The Pink Hat" (1926) 573
47 "Ballad of Pearl May Lee" (1945) 577
48 The Owl Answers (1963) 583
49 From Oxherding Tale (1982) 594
50 From The Darker Face of the Earth (1994) 606
51 From Buck (2001) 634
52 From The Secret Life of Fred Astaire (2001) 653
Sources 667
Index 673
About the Editor 675
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