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1. House Behind the Cedars
 
2. Southern Workman. Vol. XXXI No.
 
3. Marrow of Tradition
 
4. Year Book for 1917
 
$59.95
5. Frederick Douglass: A Biography
$59.50
6. An Exemplary Citizen: Letters
$18.65
7. Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories,
8. The Quarry
$21.99
9. The Journals of Charles W. Chesnutt
 
10. The Literary Career of Charles
$49.75
11. Passing in the Works of Charles
$11.16
12. The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt
 
$42.00
13. Studies in Short Fiction Series:
 
$66.00
14. Critical Essays on Charles Chesnutt
 
15. Charles W. Chesnutt: A Reference
$1.00
16. "To Be an Author"
$2.70
17. Absent Man: Narrative Craft Of
$40.70
18. Charles W. Chesnutt: Essays and
$29.33
19. Paul Marchand, F.M.C.
$8.46
20. The House Behind the Cedars (Brown

1. House Behind the Cedars
by Charles Waddell, 1858-1932 Chesnutt
 Hardcover: Pages (1900)

Asin: B000NOXFJQ
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2. Southern Workman. Vol. XXXI No. 3 (March, 1902)
by 1858-1932 Chesnutt Charles Waddell
 Hardcover: Pages (1902)

Asin: B000NP8E8W
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3. Marrow of Tradition
by Charles Waddell, 1858-1932 Chesnutt
 Hardcover: Pages (1901)

Asin: B000NP169G
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4. Year Book for 1917
by Charles Waddell, 1858-1932 Chesnutt
 Hardcover: Pages (1917)

Asin: B000NOYUCC
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5. Frederick Douglass: A Biography
by Charles W. (Charles Waddell), 1858-1932 Chesnutt
 Unknown Binding: Pages (2010-08-25)
-- used & new: US$59.95
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Asin: 1438761619
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6. An Exemplary Citizen: Letters of Charles W. Chesnutt, 1906-1932
by Charles Chesnutt
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2002-02-13)
list price: US$70.00 -- used & new: US$59.50
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Asin: 0804745080
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Editorial Review

Product Description

This book collects the letters written between 1906 and 1932 by novelist and civil rights activist Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932).Between 1885 and 1905, this pioneer in the African-American literary tradition published three novels, two books of short stories, a biography of Frederick Douglass, and many short stories and essays in prestigious periodicals—at the same time managing a stenography and court reporting firm in Cleveland, Ohio.His works, which featured the experiences of African-Americans in the ante- and post-bellum period, received favorable reviews.But they did not find a large and appreciative audience until many decades later when both the civil rights movement and increased interest in the African-American contribution to American cultural life resulted in the “rediscovering” of Chesnutt’s large body of writings.

Though he never saw the publication of another of his book-length manuscripts after 1905, Chesnutt continued to write fiction and essays, and to deliver speeches ranging from disenfranchisement to the life and works of Alexandre Dumas, and to act in behalf of the African-American cause through such organizations as the Committee of Twelve and the N.A.A.C.P.A dedicated integrationist opposed to “race-pride” movements of all kinds, Chesnutt in his post-1905 letters includes many references to the unfortunate consequences of racial segregation, addressed to both African-American and white correspondents.

These letters also reveal a multi-faceted personality with interests that transcended the issue of race and urged everyone to live life to the fullest.His correspondents included prominent members of the Harlem Renaissance as well as major American political figures Chesnutt sought to influence on behalf of his fellow African-Americans.As a successful businessman enjoying the amenities of upper middle class American life, a family man, and an Episcopalian who worshipped at a “white church,” Chesnutt in many respects embodied the realization of the American Dream.He was, as William Dean Howells termed Booker T. Washington, an “exemplary citizen” and a role model for all Americans.

... Read more

7. Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays (Library of America)
by Charles W. Chesnutt
Hardcover: 939 Pages (2002-01-14)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$18.65
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Asin: 1931082065
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Rejecting his era's genteel hypocrisy about miscegenation, lynching, and "passing," Charles W. Chesnutt broke new ground in American literature with his innovative explorations of racial identity and use of African-American speech and folklore. Chesnutt exposed the deformed logic of the Jim Crow system-creating, in the process, the modern African-American novel. Here is the best of Chesnutt's fiction and nonfiction in the largest and most comprehensive edition ever published, featuring a newly researched chronology of the writer's life.

The Conjure Woman (1899) introduced Chesnutt to the public as a writer of "conjure" tales, stories that explore black folklore and supernaturalism. That same year, he published The Wife of His Youth, and Other Stories of the Color Line, stories set in Chesnutt's native North Carolina that dramatize the legacies of slavery and Reconstruction at the turn of the century.His first novel, The House Behind the Cedars (1900), is a study of racial passing. The Marrow of Tradition (1901), Chesnutt's masterpiece, is a powerful and bitter novel about the harsh reassertion of white dominance in a southern town at the end of the Reconstruction era.

Nine uncollected short stories round out the volume's fiction, including conjure tales omitted from The Conjure Woman and two stories that are unavailable in any other edition. Eight essays highlight his prescient views on the paradoxes of race relations in America and the definition of race itself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
I found Charles Chesnutt through a book on Frederick Douglass.Charles Chesnutt is a remarkable writer whose works should be taught in high school.He captures the power of slavery and its affter effects as it corrodes both whites and blacks.With a clear eye, he sees deeply the problems that still persist and linger in America as a result of the divide between black and white and how each view America.

5-0 out of 5 stars new found discovery
I was limited to authors offered to me in high school, and I have been trying to catch up with "new" ones ever since. This man was recently honored with a US postage stamp. The picture on the stamp originated from an area library, which led me to investigate his writings. I am glad I did. He is great. I love Victorian literature, but this man writes with a much more modern approach. An American classic!

5-0 out of 5 stars Charles Chestnutt Review
Wow! If you want a glimpse of American life for African Americans shortly after the civil war this book provides wonderful insights.Charles Chestnutt writes stories of what it was like to be free after a life of slavery...The stories are about African Americans adjustment to freedom and life in the late 19th century.
The stories are beautifully written and provide a rare glimpse of this era from the African American point of view. Too bad this author is not well known....Reminds me of Mark Twain in many ways. Thank you Library of America for keeping authors who are no longer commercially available alive.
Charles Chestnutt is now in my top 5 American authors....Read it and enjoy!
The book is beautifully bound and has a built in ribbon bookmark..fun to read. ... Read more


8. The Quarry
by Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Dean McWilliams
Hardcover: 320 Pages (1999-02-08)
list price: US$42.50
Isbn: 0691059950
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Was Donald Glover really what he seemed--a handsome, dedicated, and clever African-American star of the Harlem Renaissance, whose looks made him the "quarry" of a variety of women? Or could the secrets of his birth change his destiny entirely? Focusing on the culture of Harlem in the 1920s, Charles Chesnutt's final novel dramatizes the political and aesthetic life of the exciting period we now know as the Harlem Renaissance. Mixing fact and fiction, and real and imagined characters, The Quarry is peopled with so many figures of the time--including Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey--that it constitutes a virtual guide to this inspiring period in American history. Protagonist Glover is a light-skinned man whose adoptive black parents are determined that he become a leader of the black people. Moving from Ohio to Tennessee, from rural Kentucky to Harlem, his story depicts not only his conflicted relationship to his heritage but also the situation of a variety of black people struggling to escape prejudice and to take advantage of new opportunities.

Although he was the first African-American writer of fiction to gain acceptance by America's white literary establishment, Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) has been eclipsed in popularity by other writers who later rose to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. Recently, this pathbreaking American writer has been receiving an increasing amount of attention. Two of his novels, Paul Marchand, F.M.C. (completed in 1921) and The Quarry (completed in 1928), were considered too incendiary to be published during Chesnutt's lifetime. Their publication now provides us not only the opportunity to read these two books previously missing from Chesnutt's oeuvrebut also the chance to appreciate better the intellectual progress of this literary pioneer. Chesnutt was the author of many other works, including The Conjure Woman & Other Conjure Tales, The House Behind the Cedars, The Marrow Tradition, and Mandy Oxendine. Princeton University Press recently published To Be an Author: Letters of Charles W. Chesnutt, 1889-1905 (edited by Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Robert C. Leitz, III). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Hidden Treasure Found
This is one of the three novels that Chesnutt wrote late in his career that were rejected by the publishers. The publishers apparently found THE QUARRY too controversial and in deed it is.The basic story line has beendone before - the Puddin Head Wilson theme that John Twain wrote of where aman is raised as black but is indeed white.Chesnutt varies the theme andwhile telling the story of Donald Glover also tells the story of hypocricyin American life.For those who did not like Chesnutt's early stories thatrelied heavily on dialect and folk tales, I would urge them to try hislater works. I recently read THE COLONEL'S DREAM which is an excellentstudy of the New South.The Quarry is an excellent view of America in theearly part of the 20th Century and perhaps today. ... Read more


9. The Journals of Charles W. Chesnutt
by Charles W. Chesnutt
Paperback: 200 Pages (1993-01-01)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$21.99
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Asin: 082231424X
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Born on the eve of the Civil War, Charles W. Chesnutt grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a county seat of four or five thousand people, a once-bustling commercial center slipping into postwar decline. Poor, black, and determined to outstrip his modest beginnings and forlorn surroundings, Chesnutt kept a detailed record of his thoughts, observations, and activities from his sixteenth through his twenty-fourth year (1874-1882). These journals, printed here for the first time, are remarkable for their intimate account of a gifted young black man's dawning sense of himself as a writer in the nineteenth century.
Though he achieved literary success in his time, Chesnutt has only recently been rediscovered and his contribution to American literature given its due. The only known private diary from a nineteenth-century African American author, these pages offer a fascinating glimpse into Chesnutt's everyday experience as he struggled to win the goods of education in the world of the post-Civil War South. An extraordinary portrait of the self-made man beset by the urgencies and difficulties of self-improvement in a racially discriminatory society, Chesnutt's journals unfold a richly detailed local history of postwar North Carolina. They also show with great force how the world of the postwar South obstructed--and, unexpectedly, assisted--a black man of driving intellectual ambitions.
... Read more

10. The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt (Southern Literary Studies)
by William L. Andrews
 Hardcover: 292 Pages (1980-11)
list price: US$37.50
Isbn: 0807106739
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11. Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2010-02-05)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$49.75
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Asin: 1604734167
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Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt is a collection that reevaluates Chesnutt's deft manipulation of the "passing" theme to expand understanding of the author's fiction and nonfiction. Nine contributors apply a variety of theories---including intertextual, signifying/discourse analysis, narratological, formal, psychoanalytical, new historical, reader response, and performative frameworks---to add richness to readings of Chesnutt's works. Together the essays provide convincing evidence that "passing" is an intricate, essential part of Chesnutt's writing, and that it appears in all the genres he wielded: journal entries, speeches, essays, and short and long fiction.

The essays engage with each other to display the continuum in Chesnutt's thinking as he began his writing career and established his sense of social activism, as evidenced in his early journal entries. Collectively, the essays follow Chesnutt's works as he proceeded through the Jim Crow era, honing his ability to manipulate his mostly white audience through the astute, though apparently self-effacing, narrator, Uncle Julius, of his popular conjure tales. Chesnutt's ability to subvert audience expectations is equally noticeable in the subtle irony of his short stories. Several of the collection's essays address Chesnutt's novels, including Paul Marchand, F.M.C., Mandy Oxendine, The House Behind the Cedars, and Evelyn's Husband. The volume opens up new paths of inquiry into a major African American writer's oeuvre.

... Read more

12. The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt (Penguin Classics)
by Charles W. Chesnutt
Paperback: 544 Pages (2008-05-27)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$11.16
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Asin: 0143105345
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Collections from two of our most influential African American writers—under the general editorship of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

An icon of nineteenth-century American fiction, Charles W. Chesnutt—an incisive storyteller of the aftermath of slavery in the South—is widely credited with almost single-handedly inaugurating the African American short story tradition and was the first African American novelist to achieve national critical acclaim. This major addition to Penguin Classics features an ideal sampling of his work: twelve short stories (including conjure tales and protest fiction), three essays, and the novel The Marrow of Tradition. Published here for the 150th anniversary of Chesnutt’s birth, The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt will bring to a new audience the genius of a man whose legacy underlies key trends in modern black fiction. ... Read more


13. Studies in Short Fiction Series: Charles Chesnutt (Twayne's Studies in Short Fiction)
by Henry B. Wonham
 Hardcover: 192 Pages (1998-02-13)
list price: US$42.00 -- used & new: US$42.00
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Asin: 0805708693
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Editorial Review

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Studies in Short Fiction Series Editors: Gary Scharnhorst, University of New MexicoEric Haralson, State University of New York at StonybrookThe coverage offered in Twaynes Studies in Short Fiction series extends beyond authors written works to discuss the writers personal life taken from interviews, essays, memoirs, and other biographical material; the critical reception to his or her work; and an overview of how the subjects output fits into the larger world of literature.Each volume is designed as a complete and self-contained companion to a particular writers short fiction, and will invigorate any reading of the writers works. Further enhancing its value as a reference work, each volume contains a chronology, selected bibliography, and an index, and library bindings with cloth covers insure maximum longevity. Charles W. Chesnutt's reputation as a master of the short story has only recently begun to recover the stature that was accorded him shortly after the publication of his collections The Conjure Woman and The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (both in 1899).One of the most revered African-American writers of his day (he was also a novelist, essayist, and diarist), Chesnutt in his brief career distinguished himself primarily with his dialect-based tales and his post-Civil War urban dramas.In this historically rich analysis of Chesnutt's short fiction, Henry B. Wonham argues that the writer explored the causes and effects of the prevasive influences of "the color line" more subtly and creatively than any of his contemporaries, black or white.In discussing both the dialect and nondialect tales, Wonham concludes that Chesnutt's true genius for expressing the racial dynamics of the era he named "Post-BellumPre-Harlem" emerges most clearly in his short fiction.The volume includes Chesnutt's journal excerpts and several essays, plus essays by William Dean Howells and other,- more contemporary critics of the story form.Highly recommended for academic, public, and school libraries. CHOICETwaynes Studies in Short Fiction series offers concise, sensitive surveys of the works of important practitioners of the short story. BooklistTwayne Publishers has done it again.These handsome volumes should be considered not only for the college library, but also for students, teachers, and devotees of the short story. Studies in Short Fiction ... Read more


14. Critical Essays on Charles Chesnutt (Critical Essays on American Literature)
by Joseph McElarth
 Hardcover: 306 Pages (1999-09-01)
list price: US$66.00 -- used & new: US$66.00
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Asin: 078380055X
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15. Charles W. Chesnutt: A Reference Guide (Reference Guides in Literature)
by Curtis W. Ellison, E. W. Metcalf
 Hardcover: 150 Pages (1977-06)
list price: US$22.00
Isbn: 0816178259
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16. "To Be an Author"
by Charles Waddell Chesnutt
Hardcover: 264 Pages (1997-01-17)
list price: US$37.50 -- used & new: US$1.00
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Asin: 0691036683
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"This book will appeal to a growing audience, not just of Chesnutt scholars but of all those interested in the interracial history of American letters and the development of the African-American literary field." George Hutchinson, author of The Harlem Renaissance in Black and WhiteCollected in this volume are the 1889-1905 letters of one of the first African-American literary artists to cross the "color line" into the de facto segregated American publishing industry of the turn of the century. Selected for inclusion are those chronicling the rise of Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932), an attorney and businessman in Cleveland, Ohio, who achieved prominence as a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and lecturer despite the obstacles faced by a man of color during the "Jim Crow" period. In his insightful commentaries on his own situation, Chesnutt provides as well a special perspective on life-at- large in America during the Gilded Age, the "gay `90s" (which were not so gay for African Americans), and the Progressive era. Like his black correspondents Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, T. Thomas Fortune, and William M. Trotter he was one of the major commentators on what was then termed the "Negro Problem." His most distinguished novels, The House Behind the Cedars (1900) and The Marrow of Tradition (1901), were published by major "white" presses of the time; not only did his editors and publishers but then- preeminent black and white critics greet these literary protests against racism as proof of the intellectual and artistic excellence of which a long-oppressed people were capable when afforded equal opportunity.Since the 1960s, when the rediscovery of his genius began in earnest, Chesnutt has received even more recognition than he enjoyed by the early 1900s. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Robert C. Leitz, III, have surveyed every collection of Chesnutt's papers and those of his correspondents in order to reconstruct the story of his most vital years as an author. Their introduction contextualizes the letters in light of Chesnutt biography and the less-than-promising prospects faced by a would-be literary artist of his racial background. Their encyclopedic annotations explaining contemporary events to which Chesnutt responds and what was then transpiring in both black and white cultural environments illuminate not only Chesnutt's character but those of many now unfamiliar figures who also contributed to what Chesnutt termed the "cause." Provided in this first- ever edition of Chesnutt's letters is a detailed portrait of one of the pioneers in the African-American literary tradition and a panorama of American life a century ago.Amazon.com Review
Charles Waddell Chesnutt declared his intentions in this 1891entry in journal: "Every time I read a good novel, I want to writeone. It is the dream of my life- -to be an author." Less than a decadelater, he had realized his dream. It was, however, short-lived;Chesnutt published his last novel in 1905, and only a few storiesthereafter.Still, as one of the first blacks to earn his living as awriter before the Harlem Renaissance, he remains an important figurein American literature. This collection of letters, includingcorrespondence with Booker T.Washington and the Southern novelist GeorgeWashington Cable (an early mentor), is essential for anyonecurious about the roots of black writing. ... Read more


17. Absent Man: Narrative Craft Of Charles W. Chestnutt
by Charles Duncan
Hardcover: 234 Pages (1999-01-01)
list price: US$36.95 -- used & new: US$2.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0821412396
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Analyzing an Enigma
Any serious student of African American literature has read the fiction and/or journals of Charles Waddell Chesnutt, one of the most ambitious, intelligent, and under-rated writers of his time."The AbsentMan" is a must-read for Chesnutt scholars, because in it, Duncanexplores some of the reasons for Chesnutt's enigmatic reputation:hiselusive authorial stance; his introspective personality; his lifelongpreoccupation with the ways in which society constructs a person'sidentity; and his persistent examinations of racial attitudes at a timewhen much of the reading public was unprepared both emotionally andintellectually for such honesty.Duncan painstakingly dissects the variousnarrative constructs--such as masking, and the first-personnarrator-protagonist vs. the witness-narrator--with which Chesnuttexperimented in his writing.Duncan demonstrates an astute understandingof Chesnutt's delicate role:a 19th-century black writer attempting tochallenge the racial assumptions of his readers, most of whom were white,and gain fame and fortune in the process.Ambitious indeed, and, sadly,Chesnutt in the end suffered from critical backlash. After Chesnutt's deathin 1932, his canon seemed neglected for a time; however, critical attentionincreased during the latter half of the 20th century, and, influenced byChesnutt scholar Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., Duncan's voice is a competentaddition.While some critics have focused mainly on Chesnutt's mostwell-known works, such as "The Conjure Woman" and "TheMarrow of Tradition," Duncan gives special attention to Chesnutt'slesser known short fiction, such as the short stories "Baxter'sProcrustes" and "The Shadow of My Past."Duncan's is amuch-needed contribution to our understanding and appreciation ofChesnutt's rhetorical brilliance. ... Read more


18. Charles W. Chesnutt: Essays and Speeches
Paperback: 636 Pages (2002-12-01)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$40.70
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Asin: 0804744327
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) has been considered bymany the major African-American fiction writer before the HarlemRenaissance. This book collects essays he wrote from 1899 through1931, the majority of which concern white racism, and political andliterary addresses he made to both white and black audiences from 1881through 1931. ... Read more


19. Paul Marchand, F.M.C.
by Charles Waddell Chesnutt
Hardcover: 144 Pages (1998-07)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$29.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1578060559
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Charles Chesnutt wrote this novel at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. Never before published, the novel disputes prevailing attitudes of the time on racial character and identity. In a surprising plot reversal, Chesnutt deals with the subject of miscegenation, and his hero Paul Marchand is an admirable male with inner strength.Amazon.com Review
Charles Chestnutt's 1921 novel begins with a startlingpremise: expatriate Paul Marchand, a "Free Man of Color," returns toNew Orleans only to discover that he is now officially white. Thanksto a will, he has become the head of a rich, powerful--and racist--Creole family. To claim his birthright, however, he must renounce hismixed-race wife and children, as well as all the principles of hisupbringing. Novelist Chestnutt was the most popular and criticallyacclaimed African-American writer of his day. By the time he wrotePaul Marchand, F.M.C., however, he had fallen from favor, andpublishers universally rejected the novel. Its publication marks arecent resurgence of interest in his writing, and it's clear to seewhy; if Chestnutt's purple prose and melodramatic plot twistssometimes seem dated, his ideas do not. With its dramatic schismbetween nature and nurture, Marchand's dilemma poses some peculiarlymodern questions about the meaning of race. Like many currenttheorists, Chestnutt saw race as a social construct rather than as anirreversible biological fact, perhaps because of his ownbackground. He was himself light-skinned enough to pass for white, andknowing that he decided not to do so gives this fascinating noveladded resonance. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Paul Marchand
I purchased the book for my daughter and she likes it.the book is in good condition.

5-0 out of 5 stars A lost treasure
This is not my first Chesnutt book.Over the years I read the Marrow of Tradition, House Behind the Cedars and several of Chesnutt's short stories.PAUL MARCHAND FMS is truly a lost treasure. The introduction is extremelywell done and gives an excellent explanation to new readers of this genre. All readers will get a true sense of the racial lines that exsisted inearly 19th century New Orleans and how some of these same feelings existtoday.If you have not been a reader of Chesnutt, this is a good place tostart. I'm sure that you will come to love his writings just as I have.Asa native of Cleveland, Ohio, I'm proud to remind all readers that Chesnutt spent most of his live in Cleveland and is buried in Cleveland's historicLakeview Cemetery. ... Read more


20. The House Behind the Cedars (Brown Thrasher Books)
by Charles W. Chesnutt
Paperback: 320 Pages (2000-04-20)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$8.46
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Asin: 082032194X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In The House Behind the Cedars, a novel about two African Americans who pass for white in post-Civil War North Carolina, Charles W. Chesnutt introduces a striking new hero in American fiction of the color line: John Walden, a young black man who decides to pass for white in order to earn what he feels is his rightful share of the American dream.

Without sentimentality, Chesnutt's novel probes deeper than any before it into the white South's obsessions with race and privilege and still stands as one of the most authoritative and important explorations of miscegenation in all of American literature.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Important in context, possibly, but not a very good book today
It's possible that I'm missing something, but I didn't find this book engaging or enjoyable. (I'm told that _The Marrow Of Tradition_, also by Chesnutt, is much better.) Chesnutt does do a good job of exaggerating and parodying the tropes of late 1800s sentimental fiction, but the contemporary reader is likely to find these a bit hackneyed. Few if any of the characters are sympathetic, the action seems forced, and the ending is disappointing both literally and thematically. That said, it's unclear that Chesnutt could have ended the book any other way, and there are some subtle details that push against the prevailing mores of the time. Watch especially the conversation between John and Judge Straight, and the comparative lack of retribution for John's life choices as compared to Rena's.

If you're interested in late 1800s stories of race passing by African-American authors that provide a heavy-handed moral, try Frances Harper or Pauline Hopkins (or the other Chesnutt mentioned above, though I haven't read it myself) --- if you want to see this exact same plot arc done so much better (and with the same moral!) in 1850, read Frank J. Webb's _The Garies And Their Friends._

There are plenty of scholarly reasons to read this book, but if you don't have one and are looking for entertainment or personal enlightenment, I'd point you away from this book and toward _The Garies_.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth reading for historical insight
If published today, I would have given this book 3 stars because of the amount of contrivance it contains. But considering that it was first published in 1900, it must be given higher esteem. Historically, the study it provides of being biracial (considered Black then) and able to pass as white in the Carolinas 100 years ago is invaluable to the African American literary canon. The dilemmas faced by this ability are brilliantly portrayed in this book. I was fascinated with the dilemmas whites and "dark-skinned" blacks faced socially when dealing with the Rena and her brother. I especially enjoyed the conversation between her brother John and the town lawyer when John asks him to teach him to become a lawyer - I thought that was the most brilliantly written passage in the book.

Despite the contrivances and that it takes a bit to get into the writer's style, this was a compelling read. Though not especially likeable, the characters are interesting, complex and well-drawn.

I recommend this to anyone interested in the racial history of the South after abolition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly engaging
I had to read this book for a Senior Seminar in English and was surprised to find that it was an entertaining read. Granted, one must suspend disbelief in a few places in order to allow for coincidences but what Chesnutt does is something of a pastiche of different writing genres. He also goes to the very limits in portraying the many gradations that existed in the Southern color line.
In truth, most of the characters are not necessarily likeable, but one cannot help turning the pages to see who will do what next. Those who chanced to pass for white were never far from an intrigue of some kind.
This is a fast read as well as an entertaining one, and while Chesnutt plays with many different styles and humors, it is not without historical merit.

3-0 out of 5 stars Important writer, but never quite reaches mastery
I am writing a final paper on this book at the moment.Chestnutt is an important writer, but not one of the best of the period.I don't think he ever got the chance to fully mature as a writer.This book leaves me witha lot of what-ifs and whys.For example, he introduces a nephew to theheroine who appears as though he will be important, but simply drops out ofthe picture. The book leaves me wondering what he meant to do, and didn'thave time for. It is a good read, but rather frustrating.

If you onlyhave time to read one African American classic, I would turn you instead toZora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Are Watching God" which is trulyamazing! ... Read more


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