LANGSTON HUGHES: An Introduction to the Poetry by Onwuchekwa Jemie

LANGSTON HUGHES: An Introduction to the Poetry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A defense of ""the most grossly misjudged poet of major importance in America"" which succeeds in giving him distinct if limited stature. University of Minnesota professor Jemie emphasizes Hughes' contribution to the development of a black aesthetic from the 1926 essay ""The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain"" on. He discusses the manifestations in Hughes' poetry of black formal and social concerns, as derived from music--mainly the blues and jazz--and from the political realities of racial conflict. One of Nigerian-born Jemie's few reservations is Hughes' romanticization of black Africa. He supports, or lets stand, jingoistic responses to major white poets, like the equation of ""effeminate,"" ""weak,"" ""effete,"" and even ""all that is false and dead"" with ""white Christian civilization,"" while contending that Hughes is the equal or superior of these same major poets whose work he then falsely describes (e.g. ""when [Pound] is conventional, it is in the idiom of the educated middle class""). Hughes' lyrical, ""apolitical poetry"" gets cursory treatment. Though sometimes strident and repetitious, the book fills a space occupied by only one other volume, Langston Hughes: Black Genius, a critical anthology lacking Jemie's single-minded focus and intensity.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press