The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings, by James Weldon Johnson, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble ...

See more details below
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$3.49
BN.com price
(Save 12%)$3.99 List Price

Overview

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings, by James Weldon Johnson, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
 
In his long career James Weldon Johnson established himself as a poet, composer, lawyer, diplomat, educator, and journalist. Yet he wrote only one novel: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Published anonymously in 1912, it received scant notice until its reissue in 1927 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. A landmark in African-American writing, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man was the first black novel written in the first person, and a trailblazer for writers exploring racial ambiguity. It served as an eloquent model for later writers ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

A coming-of-age story about a man whose light skin enables him to “pass” for white, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man describes a remarkable journey through the strata of black and white society at the turn of the twentieth century. From a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from hobnobbing with European aristocrats to jamming with ragtime musicians, the unnamed narrator struggles to forge an identity in a culture that recognizes nothing but color. At the end, he discovers that the decision to pass brings its practitioners little more than a ruinous self-denial.
 
This edition also includes a selection of Johnson’s poetry and newspaper writings.
 

Noelle Morrissette is Lecturer of African-American Studies and English Literature at Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in 2002.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411431799
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 264,392
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Noelle Morrissette is Lecturer of African-American Studies and English Literature at Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in 2002.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt



From Noelle Morrissette’s Introduction to The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings
 
Poet, novelist, lyricist, historian, editorialist, educator, activist, and diplomat James Weldon Johnson was born in 1871 to James Johnson, an American freeman, and Helen Louise Dillett, of Nassau, the Bahamas. Johnson, who spent the bulk of his first thirty years in Jacksonville, Florida, became familiar to Americans both as a lyricist and poet and as an activist in national politics. His first work of prose fiction, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), has had a lasting appeal to audiences since its reissue in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.

Educated in Jacksonville and later in Georgia at Atlanta University, Johnson described his permanent move to New York City at the turn into the twentieth century as part of the great black migration. For almost thirty years, Johnson did not write or speak about the defining event that propelled him to leave Jacksonville, where he had made a career for himself as principal of the all-black Stanton School. He had raised the quality and level of education offered to its students, helping to provide a resource—secondary-level education—that had been unavailable. (Johnson had had to leave the state to obtain secondary-level education, at Atlanta University.) As he related years later in his autobiography, Along This Way (1933), one event propelled Johnson northward: In 1901, as Jacksonville was placed under martial law after a great fire had swept through the city, he was nearly lynched by a mob of militiamen. Johnson, a noted local official representing the concerns of Jacksonville’s black population, had arranged to meet a journalist from an out-of-town newspaper seeking details of the impact of the fire and subsequent martial law on conditions for local blacks. Initially meeting in a public place, Johnson and the fair-skinned woman reporter walked to the park to conduct their interview, where he was pursued by a group of militiamen who mistakenly thought the reporter was white. While he had accomplished a great deal as principal of Stanton School, and had previously viewed Jacksonville, as a southern town, as atypically hospitable to blacks, this experience demonstrated to Johnson that he could not advance in the South.

Johnson abandoned his position as principal to collaborate as a lyricist with his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, and Bob Cole on musical comedy and off-Broadway productions in New York City. He had been writing lyrics with Rosamond and spending his summers in New York City since 1899; with this step, he made New York his permanent home. The move was the first of several pivotal career shifts for Johnson. He would later take up an appointment as American consul to Venezuela and then Nicaragua. Resigning from diplomatic service, he moved to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he eventually became executive secretary. As he observed in his autobiography, accompanying each of these career changes was a fresh perspective on what he considered his main vocation: writing. From lyric writing, Johnson would shift his focus to poetry and prose (both fiction and nonfiction) that advanced positive images of black Americans.

As a lyricist, Johnson was a participant in and active shaper of the wave of black art in New York City that preceded the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Located in the Tenderloin District (roughly the area of mid-Manhattan bounded on the north and south by Forty-second Street and Twentieth-third Street and on the east and west by Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue), Black Bohemia, as it was called, served as the center of black musical and theatrical talent from the turn into the twentieth century well into 1915. Johnson observed that there were clubs of all sorts in Black Bohemia, those catering to boxers and jockeys, and to performers; and those that resembled “the modern night club,” catering to all and tolerating white sightseeing patrons and theatrical performers. Among these clubs, one stood out as the most “professional” and the most popular: Ike Hine’s. According to Johnson, the main-floor parlor, outfitted luxuriously, contained photographs and lithographs of accomplished, well-known blacks—in fact, the walls were entirely covered. There was space for entertainers and for dancing in the back parlor. Johnson used Ike Hine’s club as the basis for the “Club” in The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. In Johnson’s “Club,” the minstrel “never essayed anything below a reading from Shakespeare,” and the audience of black fellow performers—as well as the “audience” of photographs of “every colored man in America who had ever ‘done anything’”—encouraged a kind of art that was not yet permitted outside of its walls. Yet “no manager could imagine that audiences would pay to see Negro performers in any other role than that of Mississippi River roustabouts” because of the limiting taste for stereotype among mainstream American audiences.

The Marshall Hotel, which served as Johnson, his brother, and Cole’s headquarters, became the next artistic center for aspiring black artists. It drew them uptown from Black Bohemia, an event that in Johnson’s opinion marked the beginning of a new generation of black art. The Marshall, run by black proprietor Jimmie Marshall, was located on West 53rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It served good food and had an excellent four-piece orchestra, and according to Johnson, brought about a palpable change: The black clientele transformed itself to match the standard of The Marshall’s surroundings, elevating its self-concept. The visual aspect—of well-dressed black men and women socializing, listening to music, drinking coffee—was not just inspiring, it was “unprecedented,” as Johnson recalled in his autobiography Along This Way. Johnson and his brother rented rooms there that served as a social hub for some of the most notable performers, composers, and poets of the day: Harry T. Burleigh, Will Marion Cook, Theodore Drury, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Bob Cole, who lived just a few doors away from the hotel. In their conversations, they often considered their roles as artists in changing the world of music and theater and thereby advancing the status and regard of black people as a whole. Their positions were unique and diverse (and there were clashes), yet the diversity of opinion demonstrated a vital intellectual culture. According to Johnson, the group agreed on the importance of convincing managers that a black company could play a first-class theater—in other words, on Broadway. This exceptional group of young men—individuals who had burgeoning talent, ambition, and optimistic plans to alter, through art, the mainstream white perceptions of blacks as a people—was faced with regulations limiting the dissemination of black art and with the social reality of widespread racism and violence against black people that characterized early-twentieth-century life in America.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2012

    recommend

    it was interesting to read about a man whose father was white and mother was black and how he ultimately came to terms with it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2008

    A Wonderful Book

    I got this book from the library it was so good, I bought it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    The One to Watch

    This fine edition will become the new standard in Johnson scholarship. Excellent supplementary materials, engaging footnotes, and an outstanding price all work together to bring this important American novel to light.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)