The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume II: 1914-1967, I Dream a World [NOOK Book]

Overview

February 1, 2002 marks the 100th birthday of Langston Hughes. To commemorate the centennial of his birth, Arnold Rampersad has contributed new Afterwords to both volumes of his highly-praised biography of this most extraordinary and prolific American writer.
The second volume in this masterful biography finds Hughes rooting himself in Harlem, receiving stimulation from his rich cultural surroundings. Here he rethought his view of art and radicalism, and cultivated relationships ...
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The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume II: 1914-1967, I Dream a World

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Overview

February 1, 2002 marks the 100th birthday of Langston Hughes. To commemorate the centennial of his birth, Arnold Rampersad has contributed new Afterwords to both volumes of his highly-praised biography of this most extraordinary and prolific American writer.
The second volume in this masterful biography finds Hughes rooting himself in Harlem, receiving stimulation from his rich cultural surroundings. Here he rethought his view of art and radicalism, and cultivated relationships with younger, more militant writers such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Amiri Bakara. Rampersad's Afterword to volume two looks further into his influence and how it expanded beyond the literary as a result of his love of jazz and blues, his opera and musical theater collaborations, and his participation in radio and television. In addition, Rempersad explores the controversial matter of Hughes's sexuality and the possibility that, despite a lack of clear evidence, Hughes was homosexual.
Exhaustively researched in archival collections throughout the country, especially in the Langston Hughes papers at Yale University's Beinecke Library, and featuring fifty illustrations per volume, this anniversary edition will offer a new generation of readers entrance to the life and mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest artists.

"A worthy conclusion to one of the most intelligent and gracefully written biographies in years"--Kirkus Reviews. This second and final volume of Rampersad's epic biography traces the life of black America's most original and beloved poet.

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Editorial Reviews

Sacred Fire
This two-volume set is the definitive biography of Langston Hughes, the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. Beginning with a family history linked to abolitionists, the Underground Railroad, John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry, and the anti-slavery settlement of Lawrence, Kansas, author Rampersad delves deeply into the context of Hughes's life. From his tumultuous relationship with his father to his travels to the South and abroad, to the largesse and patronage he received from admirers of his work, to his life as a Harlem literary cognoscenti.

That Hughes spoke eloquently for the black masses is well known. Less known are the interesting turns and connections that brought him to recognition. In The Life of Langston Hughes, the stories abound. While on a tour of the South, and as the riveting Scottsboro case exploded onto the international scene, Hughes visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Although UNC was probably the most progressive white university in the South, for a black speaker to be featured there was extraordinary." In advance of his visit, he forwarded an essay about Scottsboro: "Let the Alabama mill-owners pay white women decent wages so they won't need to be prostitutes, he urged. And let the sensible citizens of Alabama (if there are any) supply schools for the black populace of their state, (and for the half-black, too—the mulatto children of the Southern gentlemen. [I reckon they're gentlemen]) so the Negroes won't be so dumb again. As for the jailed men—if blacks didn't howl in protest (and I don't mean a polite howl, either) then let Dixie justice (blind syphilitic as it may be) take its course." Langston "slipped in and out of Chapel Hill" before the response to the essay erupted.

This is a great biography of a complex man who lived fully in defiance of stereotypes of brutish and illiterate black manhood. His life was one of courage, adventure, and amazing creativity. Rampersad captures that life with memorable success.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The second and concluding volume of this biography of the distinguished black writer lives up to the high standard set by its critically praised predecessor. It follows Hughes from the 1940s, a discouraging period when he was ostracized as a radical and feared his career was over, through the 1950s and '60s, when he took hope from the civil rights movement yet felt alienated from younger, angrier writers such as James Baldwin and LeRoi Jones. The author, an English professor at Rutgers, astutely evaluates Hughes's complex personality: the charm that masked an essential aloofness; the intense attachments to younger men that led to a widespread assumption (never verified) that he was homosexual; above all, his love of the warmth and humor of ordinary black men and women. Rampersad is an unsparing but sympathetic analyst of Hughes's life and work; he has written an absorbing critical biography that is also a deft social history of black America in the 20th century. Photos not seen by PW. (October)
Library Journal
With this final volume of his superb biography, Rampersad comes to the racist exclusion and crippling attacks from the right that forced Hughes to scramble for a meager living. Rampersad effectively conveys not only the complex, frustrating difficulties of Hughes's work in poetry, opera, musical theater, children's books, and popular history but the rigors and humiliation of his speaking tours and tormenting trial before the McCarthy committee. Even when he was doing hackwork, the true artist in Hughes created in his Simple stories a beloved character kept brilliantly alive. With volume 1 ( LJ 8/86), this balanced, honest biography offers deep insights into a major artist's personality and work as well as a sweeping view of American culture in his lifetime. Milton Meltzer, New York
Sacred Fire
This two-volume set is the definitive biography of Langston Hughes, the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. Beginning with a family history linked to abolitionists, the Underground Railroad, John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry, and the anti-slavery settlement of Lawrence, Kansas, author Rampersad delves deeply into the context of Hughes's life. From his tumultuous relationship with his father to his travels to the South and abroad, to the largesse and patronage he received from admirers of his work, to his life as a Harlem literary cognoscenti.

That Hughes spoke eloquently for the black masses is well known. Less known are the interesting turns and connections that brought him to recognition. In The Life of Langston Hughes, the stories abound. While on a tour of the South, and as the riveting Scottsboro case exploded onto the international scene, Hughes visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Although UNC was probably the most progressive white university in the South, for a black speaker to be featured there was extraordinary." In advance of his visit, he forwarded an essay about Scottsboro: "Let the Alabama mill-owners pay white women decent wages so they won't need to be prostitutes, he urged. And let the sensible citizens of Alabama (if there are any) supply schools for the black populace of their state, (and for the half-black, too—the mulatto children of the Southern gentlemen. [I reckon they're gentlemen]) so the Negroes won't be so dumb again. As for the jailed men—if blacks didn't howl in protest (and I don't mean a polite howl, either) then let Dixie justice (blind syphilitic as it may be) take its course." Langston "slipped in and out of Chapel Hill" before the response to the essay erupted.

This is a great biography of a complex man who lived fully in defiance of stereotypes of brutish and illiterate black manhood. His life was one of courage, adventure, and amazing creativity. Rampersad captures that life with memorable success.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199882274
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/30/2001
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Sales rank: 752,733
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Arnold Rampersad is Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University. He is the author of Days of Grace: A Memoir with Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson: A Biography, and he edited Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

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Table of Contents

1. Still Here (1941) 3
2. Jim Crow's Last Stand (1941 to 1943) 32
3. Simple Speaks His Mind (1943 to 1944) 61
4. Third Degree (1944 to 1945) 88
5. Street Scene (1945 to 1947) 108
6. Heart on the Wall (1947 to 1948) 128
7. On Solid Ground (1948 to 1950) 146
8. In Warm Manure (1951 to 1953) 189
9. Out from Under (1953 to 1956) 223
10. Making Hay (1957 to 1958) 263
11. You Are the World (1958 to 1960) 288
12. Ask Your Mama! (1960 to 1961) 314
13. In Gospel Glory (1961 to 1963) 341
14. Blues for Mister Backlash (1963 to 1965) 364
15. Final Call (1965 to 1966) 386
16. Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me (1966 to 1967) 404
Afterword 426
Abbreviations 436
Notes 437
Acknowledgments 493
Index 499
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Love his poems

    We burried him high on the windy hill
    But his soul went out to sea
    I know,for i heard, when all was still
    His sea soul say to me:
    PUT NO TOMBSTONE AT MY HEAD
    FOR HERE I DO NOT MAKE MY BED
    STREW NO FLOWERS ON MY GRAVE
    I HAVE GONE OUT TO THE WIND AND WAVE
    DO NOT DO NOT WEEP FOR ME
    FOR I AM HAPPY WITH MY SEA

    (my personal favorite)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2005

    An Icon

    Arnold Rampersad¿s LIFE OF LANGSTON HUGHES Volume 2 retains much of Hughes¿ evident black pride that is inescapable no matter the type of biography and critical analysis done on him and his body of work. Hughes wrote about many other things during his lifetime, but he mostly celebrated his African-American culture without shame or apology. Volume 2 picks up where the first left off. Langston Hughes is at the crossroads of a lived life. His career as a writer has stalled a bit, he has becomes disillusioned by the predominantely white left who rufuses to understand fully and acknowledge the plight of the black American, and he is ill. Eventually, his career begins to get back on track and Rampersad takes the reader along with Hughes through the rest of his life to his death in 1967. Langston reaches out to the rest of the world through his love for his fellow black Americans and their stories and concerns. He faces the McCarthy hearings successfully but with a slight change from the politcal rhetoric expressed so openly in the 1930¿s where he had merged racial pride with a radical socialism to insure that the left could not exclude blacks from the agenda. He witnesses the rise of a new generation of black writers, some who pleased him others who did not, and challeged them to be proud of their black American heritage in their writing. He also felt the sting of some of these young black writers who felt that he was out of touch and not angry enough. And, he witnessed the return of appreciation from the outside world for his body of work and humanity, despite a dislike he held for some people in general. Arnold Rampersad's depth of exhaustive research is evident in the facts he uncovers in Hughes¿s complicated character. And, some readers will be surprised by what they will read. Volume 2 is free of much of the rheteric that came dangerously close to blatent homophobia in Volume 1. Rampersad doesn¿t come out and declare Hughes as gay, but does make the surprising reference that Hughes had a preference for black men, especially dark skinned black men. This dissonance between not wanting to identify Hughes as gay and Hughes¿s very evident preference for black men as discovered by Rampersad during his exhaustive research is pandemic among certain scholars who believe sexuality has no bearing on creativity, at lease when it comes to certain icons as Hughes is to black America. To me, Langston Hughes was and is a hero made to order! Hughes icon status still burns bright, beautifully, and unblemished for me and his other admirers regardless of any shortcomings and prejudices he held.

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