Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-727vs Total loading time: 0.44 Render date: 2022-12-02T22:10:37.189Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

16 - Richard Wright

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2012

Timothy Parrish
Affiliation:
Florida State University
Get access

Summary

The argument for Richard Wright (1908–60) as one of the most influential American novelists of the twentieth century rests on his essayistic and naturalistic novel Native Son (1940) and his fictionalized autobiography, Black Boy (1945). Wright’s trademarks as an urban naturalist and modernist tracing chronic hunger, racial conflict, social disempowerment, family dysfunction, and educational disadvantage pervade these two works. His quest throughout is to understand “the framework of contemporary living … for theories to light up the shadows of conduct.” Charting a new and disturbing trajectory of race relations in America, Wright created both an autobiographical self and a male African-American subjectivity in Black Boy and Native Son. These works provide for the first time in American fiction, as Sterling Brown argues in his 1940 review of Native Son, a racially based “psychological probing of the consciousness of the outcast, the disinherited, the generation lost in the slum jungles of American civilization.” Black Boy and Native Son would establish the form for Wright’s most effective kind of writing – autobiographical prose – that would not only underlie his most successful literary productions but dominate his later travel writings and literary journalism: the observer-participant Black Power (1954), The Color Curtain (1956), White Man Listen! (1957), and Pagan Spain (1957). All are written in this particular prose, which would confirm Wright’s status as an enduring talent and “global man of letters.”

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Baker, Houston a. Jr., Turning South Again, Durham, N.C., Duke University Press, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Butler, Robert and Ward, Jerry (eds.), The Richard Wright Encyclopedia, Westport, Conn., Greenwood, 2008.
Craven, Alice Mikal and Dow, William E. (eds.), Richard Wright: New Readings in the 21st Century, New York and London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.CrossRef
Edwards, Brent Hayes, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Nationalism, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Entin, Joseph B, Sensational Modernism: Experimental Fiction and Photography in Thirties America, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2007.Google Scholar
Ernest, JohnChaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History, Chapel Hill, North Carolina Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Graham, Maryemma (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.CrossRef
Hakutani, Yoshinobu, Cross-Cultural Visions in African American Modernism, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Janmohamed, Abdul R., The Death Bound Subject: Richard Wright’s Archaeology of Death, Durham, N.C., Duke University Press, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jones, Gavin, American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty in U.S. Literature, 1840–1945, Princeton, N.J., and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
Mullen, Bill V. and Smethurst, James, Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism, and Twentieth-Century Literature of the United States, Chapel Hill and London, University of North Carolina Press, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, Cedric J., Black Modernism: A Critical Study of Twentieth Century Negro American Authors, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Rowley, Hazel, Richard Wright: The Life and Times, New York, Holt, 2001.Google Scholar
Wright, Richard, Black Boy, introduction by Jerry W. Ward Jr. (New York, Harper Perennial, 1998), p. 284Google Scholar
Butler, Robert, “Introduction,” in The Critical Response to Richard Wright, ed. Robert Butler (Westport, Conn., and London, Greenwood Press, 1995), p. xxviiGoogle Scholar
West, Cornell, “Introduction,” in Black Power, Three Books from Exile: Black Power; The Color Curtain; and White Man, Listen! by Richard Wright (New York, Harper Perennial, 2008), p. viiGoogle Scholar
Wright, , “Blueprint for Negro Writing,” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, ed. Henry Louis Gates and Nellie McKay, 2nd ed. (New York, Norton, 2004), p. 1403Google Scholar
Wright, , 12 Million Black Voices, foreword by Noel Ignatiev, introduction by David Bradley (New York, Basic Books, 2008)Google Scholar
Wright, , “The Color Curtain,” in Black Power, Three Books from Exile: Black Power; The Color Curtain; and White Man, Listen! (New York, Harper Perennial, 2008)Google Scholar
Kinnamon, Keneth, The Emergence of Richard Wright: A Study in Literature and Society (Urbana, Chicago, and London, University of Illinois Press, 1972)Google Scholar
Kinnamon, and Fabre, Michel, eds., Conversations with Richard Wright (Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1993)Google Scholar
Hakutani, Yoshinobu, Richard Wright and Racial Discourse (Columbia, University of Missouri Press, 1996), p. 117Google Scholar
Moore, Jack B., “A Personal Appreciation of Richard Wright’s Universality,” Mississippi Quarterly 50.2 (Spring 1997), 365–374Google Scholar
Tuttleton, James W., “The Problematic Texts of Richard Wright,” Hudson Review 5.2 (Summer 1992): 263Google Scholar
Shulman, Robert, “The Political Art of Wright’s ‘Fire and Cloud,’” in Richard Wright: New Readings in the 21st Century, ed. Alice Mikal Craven and William E. Dow (New York and London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 236Google Scholar
Waligora-Davis, Nicole, “Weaving Jagged Words: The Black Left, 1930s–1940s,” in The Cambridge History of African American Literature, ed. Maryemma Graham and Jerry W. Ward Jr. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
Joyce, Joyce Ann, “Richard (Nathaniel) Wright,” in African American Writers, ed. Valerie Smith, Lea Baechler, and A. Walton Litz (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991)Google Scholar
Hurston, Zora Neale, “Stories of Conflict,” Saturday Review of Literature 17 (April 2, 1938): p. 32Google Scholar
Wright, , “How ‘Bigger’ Was Born,” in Native Son by Richard Wright, introduction by Arnold Rampersad (New York, Harper Perennial, 1998)Google Scholar
Kinnamon, , “How Native Son Was Born,” in Writing the American Classics, ed. James Barbour and Tom Quirk (Chapel Hill and London, University of North Carolina Press, 1990)Google Scholar
Miller, James A., “Introduction,” in Approaches to Teaching Wright’s Native Son, ed. James A. Miller (New York, Modern Language Association of America, 1997), p. 11Google Scholar
Wright, , Native Son, introduction by Arnold Rampersad (New York, Harper Perennial, 1998)Google Scholar
Locke, Alain, “The New Negro,” in Locke, The New Negro. 1925. (New York, Atheneum, 1992)Google Scholar
“the day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever” (Dissent, Autumn 1963, p. 354)
“dull propaganda” (Howard Mumford Jones, Boston Evening Transcript, March 2, 1940) and flawed with “paper-thin characters” (Clifton Fadiman, New Yorker, March 16, 1940)
Gates, Henry Louis and McKay, Nellie Y., eds., The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 2nd ed. (New York, Norton, 2004)
Wright, , “Preface” (1941), in 12 Million Black Voices by Richard Wright, foreword by Noel Ignatiev, introduction by David Bradley (New York, Basic Books, 1941)Google Scholar
Cappetti, Carla, Writing Chicago: Modernism, Ethnography, and the Novel (New York, Columbia University Press, 1993)Google Scholar
Andrews, William L., “Richard Wright and the African-American Autobiography Tradition,” Style 27.2 (Summer 1993): 272Google Scholar
Fabre, Michel, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (New York, William Morrow, 1973)Google Scholar
Wright, , The Outsider (1953), introduction by Maryemma Graham (New York, Harper Perennial, 2008)Google Scholar
West, , “Introduction,” in Black Power, Three Books from Exile: Black Power; The Color Curtain; and White Man, Listen! by Richard Wright (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008)Google Scholar
Dickson-Carr, Darryl. “African American Literature and the Great Depression,” in The Cambridge History of African American Literature, ed. Maryemma Graham and Jerry W. Ward Jr. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 300Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Richard Wright
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.017
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Richard Wright
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.017
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Richard Wright
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.017
Available formats
×