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The Schomburg Center Guide to Black Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present

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Editorial Reviews

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The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture lends its distinguished name to this one-stop guide and ready reference to authors, works, characters, themes, and topics related to black literature. The scope includes both fiction and nonfiction writing from African American authors and international authors whose works have been translated into English. In a dictionary format, it includes biographical entries as well as separate entries for many individual novels, collections of poems, characters, and screenplays. Brief essays on themes and topics, such as "Harlem Renaissance" and "Negritude", summarize their historical and literary significance. On a general topic such as "Discrimination", a brief treatment is followed by a discussion of black authors who have written scholarly and popular works on discrimination and how the topic is reflected in creative works. Literary terms and genres are defined and explained in the context of black literature. Additional features include a chronology of events in black history and black literary history and an essay on the Schomburg Center. An index lists titles, names, and subjects covered in the text Literature is broadly defined in this guide. Writers of nonfiction prose are included as well as filmmaker Spike Lee and television journalist Ed Bradley. While the scope is defined as from the eighteenth century to the present, the majority of the entries and fuller treatment are given to late-twentieth-century figures. The entry "Spike Lee", for example, is longer than that on William Wells Brown, nineteenth-century abolitionist, historian, playwright, and author of the first published African American novel. Many of the dramatists documented in Bernard L. Peterson's "Early Black American Playwrights and Dramatic Writers" (Greenwood, 1990) are not found here. The inclusion of major African writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o is a bonus that will perhaps introduce browsers to significant authors. The biographical entries have suggestions for further reading, but in many if not most cases the reader is referred only to other Gale publications: "Black Writers" or volumes of the "Dictionary of Literary Biography" Well-reproduced black-and-white photographs and graphics appear liberally in the text. The design of the book is somewhat marred by an ungainly combination of typefaces. The decision not to invert names in a dictionary format is somewhat visually confusing. The identification of characters in creative works could be done in an appendix since no information is given, just a cross-reference to the title of the work in which they appear The level of the writing seems to be high school and up. School and public libraries will want to purchase, and academic libraries will find it useful, although not comprehensive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787602895
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Pages: 545
  • Product dimensions: 7.53 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.54 (d)

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