New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927. hardback. Item #41987

First Edition. Second Printing (stated). Original purple cloth with gilt, small 8vo, 89 pages. The leading Black poet’s 2nd book of poetry, published midway through Hughes' college career, concentrated on Negro folk music. As Charles S. Johnson observed, the poems ... were a departure ... [and] marked a final, frank turning to the folk life of the Negro, striving to catch and give back to the world the strange music of the unlettered Negro " his Blues'"[Dickinson p. 47]. This collection appeared following publication of The Weary Blues (1926), gathering poems which first appeared in the pages of Opportunity, The New Republic, The Crisis, Fire, and The New Masses, and other publications. "These poems, for the most part, interpret the more primitive types of American Negro, the bell-boys, the cabaret girls, the migratory workers, the singers of Blues and Spirituals, and the makers of folk songs. As in The Weary Blues, Mr. Hughes expresses the joy and pathos, the beauty and ugliness of their lives" (from the jacket rear panel, not present here). The title attracted controversy, which affected sales; so did the dark poetic depictions of impoverished Black America. Many reviewers disliked his informal language–a conscious choice by Hughes–and the sexual content of some of the poems. Arnold Rampersad, a leading Hughes scholar, noted that in this work, Hughes "deliberately define[d] poetic tradition according to the standards of a group often seen as sub-poetic - the black masses" (p. 145). He called it the poet’s "greatest collection of verse." Rampersad saw the collection as so significant that he even suggested that "’Fine Clothes to the Jew’ may stand in relationship to black American poetry in a way not unlike Walt Whitman's 1855 edition of ‘Leaves Of Grass’ stands in relationship to white American poetry.” Dickinson 2; Blockson 5252. Some staining and use wear, one blank endpaper removed, note tipped into other blank endpaper. Good+ Condition, attractive copy. (KH-10-10).

Price: $175.00

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