Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.
E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
Back to main blog
Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
The Old Comrades:
November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
"Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man." Via Mitch Townsend in Chicago Boyz I found this astonishing story from close to a hundred years ago, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. My eyes slid past the part where Mitch Townsend said it was a piece of fiction, so at first I thought it was fact. It is not, but it is still a fascinating document. The author was James Weldon Johnson, a major figure in the Harlem Rennaissance.
Even before I reached the note at the end saying it was a work of fiction, I began to feel that too much happened to the narrator to be entirely plausible, and too much of it seemed illustrated to make political points - albeit political points that desperately needed to be made. James Weldon Johnson was field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and I assume that his work was written to advance that organisation's work. I don't know whether the Autobiography was initially presented as fact; but a great deal of fiction of that era was written in the first person and there would have been nothing unusual about something called "Autobiography of ..." being understood by all to be fiction.
Never mind. The Edwardian conventions (such as the treatment of the narrator's courtship, his marriage, and the eventual death of his wife) add to the interest. I found myself seeing the scenes described with three pairs of eyes, those of the narrator (a fair-skinned black man who could "pass" as white, at a time when almost imperceptible distinctions of skin colour regularly blighted lives), those of the author (an educated and politically aware black man writing at the nadir of black fortunes between the US Civil War and the Civil Rights movement) and my own.
While on the subject of that book, I would like to highlight a quote from it that is far from being the most important topic discussed, yet did grab my attention because of its prescience.
As yet, the Negroes themselves do not fully appreciate these old slave songs. The educated classes are rather ashamed of them, and prefer to sing hymns from books. This feeling is natural; they are still too close to the conditions under which the songs were produced; but the day will come when this slave music will be the most treasured heritage of the American Negro.That was written in 1912.