The Sleeper Wakes: Harlem Renaissance Stories by Women

Overview

This first definitive edition of Harlem Renaissance stories by women includes twenty-eight stories that are as compelling today as they were in the 1920s and 1930s. The writers are Gwendolyn Bennett, Marita Bonner, Anita Scott Coleman, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Ottie Beatrice Graham, Angelina Weld Grimke, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgie Douglas Johnson, Nella Larsen, Maude Irwin Owens, Leila Amos Pendleton, Eloise Bibb Thompson, and Dorothy West.

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Overview

This first definitive edition of Harlem Renaissance stories by women includes twenty-eight stories that are as compelling today as they were in the 1920s and 1930s. The writers are Gwendolyn Bennett, Marita Bonner, Anita Scott Coleman, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Ottie Beatrice Graham, Angelina Weld Grimke, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgie Douglas Johnson, Nella Larsen, Maude Irwin Owens, Leila Amos Pendleton, Eloise Bibb Thompson, and Dorothy West.

Published originally in periodicals such as The Crisis, Fire!!, and Opportunity, these stories have until now been virtually unavailable to readers. In them, we find the themes of black and white racial tension and misunderstanding, economic deprivation, passing, love across and within racial lines, and the attempt to maintain community and uplift the race.

This significant collection is the first definitive edition of Harlem Renaissance stories by women. These 27 stories have been virtually unavailable to readers until now. Contributors include Gwendolyn Bennett, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Angelina Weld Grimke, Zora Neale Huston, Nella Larsen, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Ann Petry, and Dorothy West.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a vital addition to the growing shelf of African American literature. Readers will be pleased to discover such writers as Jessie Redmon Fauset, who served as an editor of the Crisis , an influential literary journal of the 1920s and '30s from which many of these stories are taken. Her story about two young people in love who discover they are siblings and her tale of a black woman who ``passes'' until she can no longer tolerate living with her racist white husband echo a familiar theme in this collection: identity. Marita Bonner's tale unites that thread with another one: racism and its consequences. Bonner's young male hero unwittingly kills his father and loses the power of speech as a result of unknown parentage and racism. Angelina Weld Grimke's story, reprinted, oddly, from Birth Control Review , describes a mother who loses her brother to a lynch mob. Not wanting to raise her child in such a world, she smothers him. Zora Neale Hurston contributes perhaps the finest work--a young man with wanderlust floats out to sea, dead, and citizens of a small town hold a bizarre, humorous trial attempting to imitate white justice. Knopf is a freelance editor. (May)
Library Journal
The first collection of its kind, this labor of love and justice from editor Knopf rescues from obscurity several women integral to the flourishing of black arts between the wars. Of the 14 writers represented, most readers will recognize only Zora Neale Hurston and perhaps Jessie Fauset or Dorothy West. Several others, such as risk-taking modernist Marita Bonner, are welcome discoveries. The 27 stories, diverse in style and uneven in quality, address the burden of mixed or unknown parentage, the ways and effects of racism and ``passing,'' and the universal concerns of love and need. A helpful, illuminating introduction, biographical notes, and a bibliography recommend this volume for classroom and research. Attractive packaging and scope make it a good selection for sophisticated public library collections as well.-- Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
School Library Journal
YA-Magazines such as Crisis and Opportunity, according to Knopf, preserved the history and achievements of black America during the 1920s and '30s, and provided an opportunity for African-American women to publish their short stories. Many of those pieces are brought to light again in this collection. The themes of relationships, prejudice, and personalities are historically interesting as well as entertaining. The settings are varied and charming; the protagonists familiar, yet rare. Previously unpublished, Zora Neale Hurston's ``The Bone of Contention'' is the jewel in the crown. Readers will have difficulty choosing a favorite protagonist; however, there is a certain stylistic sameness to the selections. The biographical data on the authors is fascinating in itself.-Virginia Ryder, Lee High School, Fairfax County, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813519456
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 803,551
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author


Marcy Knopf is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.

Nellie Y. McKay is Professor of American and Afro-American Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Sleeper Wakes 1
Double Trouble 26
Mary Elizabeth 40
Wedding Day 48
Free 55
Funeral 60
The Typewriter 76
Prologue to a Life 84
One Boy's Story 95
Drab Rambles 107
Nothing New 116
The Closing Door 124
Bathesda of Sinners Run 146
The Foolish and the Wise: Sallie Runner Is Introduced to Socrates and Sanctum 777 N.S.D.C.O.U. Meets Cleopatra 159
Cross Crossings Cautiously 170
Three Dogs and a Rabbit 173
Blue Aloes 182
To a Wild Rose 195
His Great Career 201
Summer Session 204
Masks 210
Mademoiselle 'Tasie 217
John Redding Goes to Sea 227
The Bone of Contention 240
Sanctuary 250
The Wrong Man 256
Freedom 262
Biographical Notes 267
Bibliography 273
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