The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man: A novel (Paperback)
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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, and ethnomusicologist, and coauthor of the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is unofficially 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 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 the poetry collection God's Trombones.
ABOUT THE INTRODUCER:
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. An award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, he has authored or coauthored twenty-five books and created twenty-one documentary films, including Finding Your Roots. His PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, earned an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, and an NAACP Image Award.