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Charles Chesnutt

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 7 months ago

Charles Chesnutt

 

 

"The object of my writing would not be so much the elevation of the colored people as the elevation of the whites--for I consider the unjust spirit of caste which is so insidious as to pervade a whole nation, and so powerful as to subject a whole race and all connected with it to scorn and social ostracism--I consider this a barrier to the moral progress of the American people: and I would be one of the first to head a determined, organized crusade against it."

 

A Brief Look

 

Charles Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1858. As Wikipedia states his parents were both "free persons of color", and his paternal grandfather was white and a slaveholder. With such a complex background it is easy to see how Chesnutt could write on issues such as miscegenation and racial issues with great authenticity.

 

A distinguishing feature of Chesnutt's writing was his ability to express his mastery of the dialect of the people of the South. While reading such dialect can be a difficult obstacle to overcome for modern readers Chesnutt has done a remarkable job at preserving an important piece of American history by capturing the dialect of those who worked and lived in the South.

 

It should also be noted that Chesnutt's ability to use Southern dialect and the subject matter in novels such as The Marrow of Tradition sometimes worked to his detriment. It is in fact only recently that Chesnutt has been re-discovered and given credit for being one of the first significant African American writers in American history.

 

Selected Works

  • The Wife of His Youth (1899)
  • Frederick Douglass (1899)
  • The Marrow of Tradition (1901)

 

Additional Resources

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