Written when he was 50, Darkwater is the first of Du Bois's three autobiographies and was followed by Dusk of Dawn: An Autobiography of a Race Concept, and The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of its First Century.
Several of its essays are personal in nature, with obvious emotional rhetoric. The style maintains a religious tone and his spirituality is a common thread in many of the individual essays. Described in varying tones of black and brown, a Christ-like figure of racial hope is prevalent, signifying the coming moment of racial confrontation and eventual salvation. This figure is one which Du Bois characterizes as the bearer of eternal freedom from discrimination, poverty, and from the color line itself. The stories within Darkwater also revolve around discontent with the way that democracy was viewed and handled among people of different ethnic, racial, and social groups.
Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil was well received by audiences after it was first published, opening the eyes of all who read it to the problems of racial discrimination in America. In his review of Darkwater in the popular magazine The Survey Robert Foerster writes, “Actually it is a book so skillfully put together, so passionately felt, so lyrically expressed, that it will be read widely.”
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About the Author
Du Bois rose to national prominence when he opposed Booker T. Washington's Atlanta compromise, an agreement in which Southern blacks would work meekly and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic education and due process in law. Du Bois insisted on civil rights and increased political representation, which he felt would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite which he dubbed the Talented Tenth.
Du Bois was a vocal opponent of racism, and spoke strongly against lynching, discrimination in the military, and racism in education. His cause included colored persons everywhere, particularly Asians and Africans in their struggles against colonialism and imperialism. He was a proponent of Pan Africanism and helped organized several Pan African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. Du Bois was a feminist who supported the women's right to vote.
Du Bois was a prolific author, producing essays, editorials, novels, autobiographies, non-fiction works, and academic studies. He wrote dozens of influential editorials in NAACP's journal The Crisis. His 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk was a seminal work in African-American literature, and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks did not contribute anything of value during the Reconstruction era. Du Bois felt that capitalism was a primary cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialist causes throughout his life. He was an ardent peace activist and advocated for nuclear disarmament.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A fascinating autobiography, well-worth reading.