THE LONELY QUEST OF RICHARD WRIGHT by Michel Fabre

THE LONELY QUEST OF RICHARD WRIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This long, loose-jointed biography of the famous black writer of a generation ago reads more like a doctoral thesis in need of revision than the sensitive professional study that the subject deserves. As a matter of fact, it is a doctoral thesis in need of revision. Michel Fabre, a French specialist on Wright, has spent years interviewing, traveling, and studying everything from unpublished manuscripts to ""train ticket stubs and hotel receipts. . ."" in order to present a detailed account of the black artist's life from his strange, isolated and often hungry boyhood in Mississippi until his mysterious and perhaps CIA-haunted death in Paris in 1960. In spite of the awkward style, which may be more the translator's problem than Fabre's, it is reasonably easy to follow Wright's progress from struggling depression Chicago through providential acceptance by the Communist Party, eminence as a party writer, exile in France, and his ultimately moral troubles as an expatriate and ex-patriot. Wright went through so many startling changes and was so important both as a forerunner of Black Nationalism and as a contemporary influence that he deserves less haphazard treatment. The book reports Wright's friendships while seldom doing more than name-dropping, indulges in sleep-inducing petty detail (those ticket stubs) and finally almost comes together at the end with a description of the Red-baiting, super-spying American community of the Paris '50's. Sometimes the effort is fascinating because of the nature of the man and the material, but Fabre's sparse interjections of analysis seem mostly provisional. Richard Wright was an independent voice and we are still waiting for the first full-length study of what he was saying.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Morrow