A TOUCH OF INNOCENCE by Katherine Dunham


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This book is an autobiography of the childhood of Katherine Dunham, the dancer- but there is little internal evidence of this. The protagonist is ""she"" or ""the girl"", and dancing enters almost not at all. This approach lends a curious, cool distant quality- it is almost like a book about someone else. Albert Dunham, Katherine's father, married twice- both times women much older than himself. His first wife, Katherine's mother, was French-Canadian-Indian, fair and wealthy. The descriptions of an upper middle class life with houses and horses on the shifting line between many shades of color are fascinating. After the mother's death, the family knew the poverty of Negro city life, and Albert, though re-married, never again succeeded in pulling his family- or himself- together. It is probably these agonizing scenes of disintegration that are responsible for the cool, literate style of the whole book- as if this material were still too painful to handle directly, as well it might be... An interesting study of a life most whites, and probably few Negroes, have ever experienced in such profound variety- though actually the author is less concerned with the ""problem"" of color than with that of personalities under terrible stress.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1959
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace