The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Penguin Classics)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Penguin Classics)

4.6 10
by James Weldon Johnson, William L. Andrews
     
 

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Originally published in 1912, this novel was one of the first to present a frank picture of being black in America.

Masked in the tradition of the literary confession as practiced by such writers as St. Augustine and Rousseau, this "autobiography" purports to be the candid account of its narrator's private views and feelings as well as an

Overview

Originally published in 1912, this novel was one of the first to present a frank picture of being black in America.

Masked in the tradition of the literary confession as practiced by such writers as St. Augustine and Rousseau, this "autobiography" purports to be the candid account of its narrator's private views and feelings as well as an acknowledgment of the central secret of his life: that though he lives as a white man, he is, by heritage and experience, an African-American.

Written by the first black executive secretary of the NAACP, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, in its depiction of turn-of-the-century New York, anticipates the social realism of the Harlem Renaissance writers. In its unprecedented analysis of the social causes and artistic consequences of a black man's denial of the best within himself, it is perhaps James Weldon Johnson's greatest service to his race.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140184020
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1990
Series:
Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
270,998
Product dimensions:
5.05(w) x 7.71(h) x 0.35(d)
Lexile:
1100L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1871. Among the first to break through the barriers segregating his race, he was educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia and was the first black admitted to the Florida bar. He was also, for a time, a songwriter in New York, American consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua, executive secretary of the NAACP, and professor of creative literature at Fisk University—experiences recorded in his autobiography, Along This Way. Other books by him include Saint Peter Relates an Incident, Black Manhattan, and God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. In addition to his own writing, Johnson was the editor of pioneering anthologies of black American poetry and spirituals. He died in 1938.

William L. Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of To Tell a Free Story and editor or coeditor of more than thirty books on African American literature.

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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Weldon Johnson is one of the most important black people who is rarely ever discussed. Although this book was fiction and not autobiographical, it is a very good look into the life of a black man who could pass for white and how he dealt with both realities which ultimately leads him to choose one although in a somewhat conflicted fashion. It a great short read that leaves you desiring to explore more about the protagonist. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse into the black experience and the conflicting aspects of our existence in the great american landscape.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though the concept of this book may not seem overly exciting to some, it really is a great story. The continuous action in the book makes for a quick and painless read. Johnson¿s narrator illustrates the ¿race question¿ in a way that many people have failed to understand. In that sense, the ideas and themes portrayed in this book, though intended for an early 1900¿s audience, still apply to today¿s society (though not in the same way as they did in the past). Anyone with a passion for history, an interest in civil rights, or simply an interest in the African-American culture can appreciate the story, theme, and historical value of The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was well crafted, entertaining, and above all, educational. It taught me a great deal about the civil rights movement, but also provided a new outlook on life in general. I would highly recommend it to anyone--black, white, yellow, pink, or purple. This book is about human nature, therefore everyone can grow a great deal by studying it.
toniFMAMTC 8 months ago
This isn’t the usual historical biography from a black man. He’s able to pass as black or white and has a privileged upbringing. He has a unique perspective of just being a man during the times of segregation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't think I would have liked James very much if we had met. He even admits that he was an arrogant person. He admits that he was such. He accomplished great thinhs only after being humbled a little. I'm not saying he didn't contribute to the world as we know it today. I'm just saying that I understand why people keep their private lives seperate from their business lives!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best Harlem Renaissance pieces of literature I have ever read. The mixture of narrative and social commentary on the race question gives the book depth and meaning beyond a simple story. The interesting title is backed up by an interesting novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man was an excellent read and quite thought provoking. I rarely find books that I'm willing to read twice but I would read this book over and over again. In my opinion Johnson's one of the best classic writer's of his time. He writes with a brillance, which was way ahead of his time. He protrays a message that outlines the answer for the race question for both Black & White. He's a great inspiration to enhance the dream searcher. Most of all he gave me hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GREAT PLOTLINE AND INTREGING TITLE THE FACT THAT U CAN PROVOKE YOUR SOCIAL STATUS IS A THOUGHT PROVOKING CONCEPT A DISOBEDIENCE TO YOUR "RACE" YET BY DOING SO U STAND UP FOR IT AND YOURSELF GIVING YOUR PEOPLE THE FREEDOM OF EQUALITY