- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: Philadelphia, PA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Troy, NY
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Geneva, IL
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
One of the most influential books ever published in America, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk is an eloquent collection of fourteen essays that describe the life, the ambitions, the struggles, and the passions of African Americans at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.
The first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, Du Bois was a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation’s history from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement. In The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903, Du Bois argued against the conciliatory position taken by Booker T. Washington, at the time the most influential black leader in America, and called for a more radical form of aggressive protest—a strategy that would anticipate and inspire much of the activism of the 1960s.
Du Bois’s essays were the first to articulate many of Black America’s thoughts and feelings, including the dilemma posed by the black psyche’s “double consciousness,” which Du Bois described as “this twoness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings . . . in one dark body.” Every essay in The Souls of Black Folk is a jewel of intellectual prowess, eloquent language, and groundbreaking insight. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the struggle for Civil Rights in America.
Farah Jasmine Griffin is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York City.
Since its publication in the spring of 1903, The Souls of Black Folk has became a founding text of African-American studies: Its insistence on an interdisciplinary understanding of black life, on historically and philosophically grounded analysis, on the scholar's role as advocate and activist, and on close study of the cultural products of the objects of examination-all became tenets of the study of black life in United States. In its insistence that any understanding of the United States has to be attentive to the contributions and struggles of black Americans, Souls has also contributed to a revision of American history and culture. Furthermore, in recent years the book has spoken to students of postcolonial and critical race studies as well. However, the text was never meant for a purely academic audience. And perhaps here lies its greatest contribution: It is a brilliant, multifaceted, learned book addressed to an intelligent lay audience as a means of informing social and political action.
Du Bois's best-known intellectual contributions are introduced here: "double consciousness," "the Talented Tenth," "the Veil," and the Du Bois versus Washington debate (see "Comments and Questions) that has characterized our understandings of black leadership throughout the twentieth century continue to be the major contributions of the text, and they have been explored and written about at length. With these concepts, Du Bois provided a basic vocabulary and foundational language for scholars and students of African-American history and culture. Double consciousness defines a psychological sense experienced by African Americans whereby they possess a national identity, "an American," within a nation that despises their racial identity, "a Negro." It also refers to the ability of black Americans to see themselves only through the eyes of white Americans, to measure their intelligence, beauty, and sense of self-worth by standards set by others. Du Bois defined the Talented Tenth as "leadership of the Negro race in America by a trained few." In The Souls of Black Folk, he envisions this educated elite at the vanguard of racial uplift. Later in his life he disavowed this theory.
Du Bois's ideas have been explored in detail, but only recently, through the efforts of black feminist writers such as Hazel Carby, Joy James, and Nellie McKay, has his notion of black leadership as fundamentally masculine received scholarly attention. These writers have opened up new ways of reading The Souls of Black Folk.
Another distinctive feature of the book is Du Bois's consistent use of the first person, his insertion of himself as a subjective student of and participant in black life and culture. In the opening pages, he introduces himself to his reader in the following manner: "And, finally, need I add that I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil." With this Old Testament allusion Du Bois establishes his relationship to the people about whom he writes as one of sacred matrimony: of man to woman, of husband to wife. In Genesis 2:23 Adam says of Eve: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Du Bois's use of the Veil, the enduring metaphor of the book, not only refers to that which separates black from white, to that through which black folk peer at the world, but it might also be the veil that covers women's faces in many religious traditions. So those who live beneath the Veil, the black folk, might be gendered as female-ever mysterious, unknowing, and unknowable-while the black elite, intellectuals and leaders, are gendered male. Du Bois promises readers that he has "stepped within the veil" and raised it to expose "deeper recesses." While he elsewhere claims to have lived behind the Veil throughout his life, here he positions himself as someone who dwells both within and just outside its cover-and, most important, as the investigator, the communicator, the native informant who can render the mysteries behind the Veil known.
The fourteen chapters that follow this promise represent Du Bois's best efforts to make known the strivings and yearnings of black folk in the United States of America. There is something, however, that remains unknowable and impenetrable even to this great bronze Adam. In the first nine chapters, all of which were revised from previously published essays, Du Bois turns to academic fields of knowledge such as history, sociology, and philosophy to assist in his interpretation of the complexity of black lives. While these fields help to provide the framework for his analysis, his prose is shaped by biblical and mythological narrative, metaphor and allusion. In the last five chapters, only one of which had been published previously, though they are still informed by philosophy, sociology, and history, Du Bois turns to elegy, poetry, religion, and song. In doing so, he attempts to better understand and express the longings of those who live beneath the Veil; consequently, he turns his critical eye to black people and their culture in an effort to comprehend how they have made sense of the absurdity of their situation.
Posted December 9, 2006
W.E.B DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk successfully elucidates the paradoxical existence of the African American. His main thesis embellishes the ¿double-consciousness¿ of the African American (an American of African heritage or the African displaced in America) and the hardships that emerge as a result. More specifically, the African American, detached from his ancestral homeland and having some significant investment in the development of this nation (i.e. slavery), longs to receive the constitutional gifts entitled to its citizens. However, because the ¿American dream¿ was conceived by and for the benefit of white Christian men of substantial wealth, and moreover, because this enabled group continuously fails or refuses to recognize their darker counterparts as equals, the African American can never truly realize his place among society. Likewise, the endless, and often fruitless, process of assimilating with mainstream American culture equates with the gradual loss of ethnic authenticity. Consequently, the African American is left at war with his own identity. Finally, DuBois exposes the socioeconomic security on behalf of white America beneath the stronghold of racism, as well as the contradictions of American values with the maintenance of social color lines . The Souls of Black Folk is presented in 14 essays, each beginning with a slave hymnal. Harvard educated DuBois employs both black vernacular and academic language, further emphasizing the duality of the African American experience. Though DuBois¿ Souls analyzes black culture in context of the early 1900s, his ideas, for the most part, hold true today and have myriad applications. Regardless of background, this text provides original and genuine insight to the American societal dynamic based on historical social investigation. I challenge you to read this work whole-heartedly and find a personal meaning! - C.G. F.
15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2010
This book was required reading before I went to college. Ironically enough, I went to W.E.B. DuBois' Alma mater, Fisk University. Excellent read; delves deeply into what black people were looking and searching for during those times: a sense of belonging, a sense of peace within the community and within each other. An excellent manifesto!
7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2010
W.E.B Du Bois's book "The Souls of Black Folk" is a must read for all Americans to get a deeper more philosophical sense of what it means to be "Black in America". DuBois was a visionary who was ahead of his time. This book is often a mandatory read for African-American studies students, but should be a must read for all serious students of history. The issues DuBois highlighted and detailed at the turn of the 20th Century seem to be resurfacing at the turn of the 21st Century. The Color Line!
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2007
On the surface this book seems to be an account of what it was like to be black in the early 1900s. It is so much more than that. It is a description of what America is, what it can be, its greatness, and its shortcomings. Here is a man who was a true American. He loved his country even as it was not fulfilling its promise to him. Amongst the gems you will find in this work: 'Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched, --criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, -- this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society.' Can we ever hear that too much? 'It is, then, the strife of all honorable men of the twentieth century to see that in the future competition of races the survival of the fittest shall mean the triumpgh of the good, the beautiful, and the true that we may be able to preserve for future civilization all that is really fine and noble and strong, and not continue to put a premium on greed and impudence and crueltly.' I don't think we're there yet. This work documents the time of the Reconstruction, something we probably know less about that we think we do. We think we know what went on, but in reality we have mostly theory. Here is someone who lived through the time and the aftermath of the civil war. He bears truer witness to it than anyone writing on the subject today. If you want to know why the state of the races is as it is, here is a book to shed light. 'One thing, however, seldom occurs: the best of the whites and the best of the Negroes almost never live in anything like close proximity. It thus happens that in nearly every Southern town and city, both whites and blacks see commonly the worst of each other.' Was it so different in the North? Is it so different today? Even with all the forced integration in the 70s? If you like American History, this is a text you should have in your bookcase.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 11, 2006
I had to read this in my sophomore year of High School. My teacher told me it was a book for Juniors in college. This book is very difficult to understand. I respect everything African Americans had to go through but Du Bois seems to talk in so many metaphors that it confuses you so much that you don't want to know what A.A. had to go through!
2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 3, 2005
This here book is my summer assignment for my Junior year in high school. It took me a month to read the first chapter and I had to force myself to finish the others three weeks before school started. I never felt so tortured. As informative as it is, it seems like DuBois dragged on and on his sentences and used such colorful words to make his essay so 'pretty-like.' A whole paragraph could of been simplied to one sentence. Once my assignment is done, I would never want to see this book ever again.
2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2010
Take the time to learn of the accomplishments of some of the relative unknowns in our history. The First Black PH.D from Harvard, De Bois looks from the perspective just north of slavery and the need to seek to understand what the future must bring. A great read for those who wish yo know more about individuals sometime segmented into a black history subject matter when his thoughts are universal and his blackness secondary.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2005
My Book Club just read this book. Do you have questions and answers for the Book Club? Thank you so much, Susan Ofuji
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2015
Posted November 21, 2013
African American Literature!
Composed of several essays discussing race, W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk effectively explains the the existence of the Negro
in America. Within these essays that compose the book, DuBois mainly exemplifies the difficulties that African Americans pertain in an American society.
These difficulties that DuBois explains throughout the book mainly comes under the accepting of ones rights that were entitled to them. But, because of
their skin, as well as their previous existence (i.e. slaves), the superiority (i.e. whites) turned a blind eye towards them. DuBois explains how by this fact:
African Americans will never truly find themselves as equals in society if such continues to occur. Hence, DuBois reasons that with this constant ingratiation towards the white man, and trying to acquiesce with his culture, only leads to a misunderstanding of the intrinsic ethnicity of African Americans. Finally, DuBois uncovers the truth about the White America involving race. In every essay composed within the book, you will find the reality of the African American citizen of that time, as well as their rationale on such matter. This book is for ones who are willing to know about the thinking of the Black man from a single-minded view. This book will truly change the thoughts of those who read it. I hope you enjoy the reading!
Posted August 20, 2013
Posted June 9, 2012
Posted February 26, 2012
Du Bois engages one with his erudition and his use of African American Spirituals to set off each essay. He closes the book with a reflection specifically on these spirituals. He makes clear several aspects of American and slavery history and presents interesting perspectives and criticisms of other important figures, such as Booker T. Washington. I found this book greatly insightful not only on the times and social milieu of Du Bois but also for current times. I highly recommend this book for all interested in this history and especially for all non-African Americans.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2011
In Souls of Black Folk I heard a voice of a my people intrenched in a what seemed to be a temporary situation but sad to say relevant in today's community and societies as a whole. Double consciousness still a major issue, "but our dogged strength alone keeps us from being torn asunder..." This book was riveting, I have the physical copy that is old and worn and on its 15th read, so I figured I'd by the Nook copy so I will always have it on my MAC and ready for me to peruse!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2010
Posted September 20, 2006
just buy this book! it is important with no regards to your race! it offers an insight to black life then, but it also gives insight to black and brown life now!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 10, 2006
not the most pressing book and easy to lose intrest, but the doctrine expressed should be read by all, and some day if implicated, will end all racism
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 22, 2002
A highly recommended book for all blacks to read, it is a must, Mr. Dubois speaks from the soul and manifest what is in the minds of most black 'folks'. Speaks on the conditions of slavery and its effects on an entire people. All whites and republicans should read this novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2000
W.E.B. DuBois was a pioneer of African American literature and thought. This book of essays will Make you rethink the progress and status of African Americans throughout America's history, and will help you understand and sympathize much more. this book has some disturbing anti-semiotic passages in it. I find it strange that DuBois can so effectively and reasonably argue for the equality of African-Americans while so irrationally claims such anti-Semitic comments. Except for this problem, (which should not be overlooked), the book is very important and powerful, and it did and continues to do a lot for the advancement of African-Americans in the US. It is sort of like a guide for an African America who is lost and does not really understand who he is. DuBios presents his information in a chronological and straightforward manner. I would recommend this book to truth seekers and soul searchers!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2009
No text was provided for this review.