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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man: Introduction by Gregory Pardlo (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series) (Hardcover)
A Contemporary Classics hardcover edition of the groundbreaking classic novel of the Black experience in America that is still remarkably relevant more than a century later.
First published anonymously in 1912, this resolutely unsentimental novel gave many white readers their first glimpse of the double standards—and double consciousness—experienced by Black people in modern America. Republished in 1927, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man became a pioneering document of African-American culture and an eloquent model for later novelists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.
Narrated by a man whose light skin enables him to "pass" for white, the novel describes a journey through the strata of Black society at the turn of the century—from a cigar factory in Jacksonville to an elite gambling club in New York, from genteel aristocrats to the musicians who hammered out the rhythms of ragtime. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a complex and moving examination of the question of race and an unsparing look at what it meant to forge an identity as a man in a culture that recognized nothing but color.
Everyman's Library pursues the highest production standards, printing on acid-free cream-colored paper, with full-cloth cases with two-color foil stamping, decorative endpapers, silk ribbon markers, European-style half-round spines, and a full-color illustrated jacket. Contemporary Classics include an introduction, a select bibliography, and a chronology of the author's life and times.
About the Author
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON (1871–1938) was a novelist, poet, lawyer, editor, ethnomusicologist, and coauthor of the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is informally known as the Black national anthem. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he was educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia University and was the first Black lawyer admitted to the Florida bar. He was also, for a time, a songwriter in New York, American consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua, executive secretary of the NAACP, and professor of creative literature at Fisk University. His other books include an autobiography, Along This Way and God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse.
About the Introducer: GREGORY PARDLO is the author of Air Traffic and of Digest, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Pardlo's poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The New York Times, among others, and he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and a visiting associate professor at New York University Abu Dhabi.
“The fictional account of an ambiguously black man’s expedition into America’s hard heart . . . . The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a revolutionary text. It takes as its core understanding that racism is first a way of seeing the world . . . . Recognized today as one of the cornerstones of the Harlem Renaissance, [Johnson’s novel] still proves itself to be as forward-thinking and ambitious as any of its successors.” --from the Introduction by Gregory Pardlo