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1. Biography - Nelson, Alice Ruth
2. Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow:

1. Biography - Nelson, Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar (1875-1935): An article from: Contemporary Authors
by Gale Reference Team
Digital: 6 Pages (2002-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007SE4KC
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Editorial Review

Book Description
This digital document, covering the life and work of Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson, is an entry from Contemporary Authors, a reference volume published by Thompson Gale. The length of the entry is 1611 words. The page length listed above is based on a typical 300-word page. Although the exact content of each entry from this volume can vary, typical entries include the following information:

  • Place and date of birth and death (if deceased)
  • Family members
  • Education
  • Professional associations and honors
  • Employment
  • Writings, including books and periodicals
  • A description of the author's work
  • References to further readings about the author
... Read more

2. Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore
by Eleanor Alexander
Hardcover: 241 Pages (2002-07)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0814706967
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description

View the Table of Contents. Read the Introduction.

A New York Times Notable Book of 2002!

"Alexander's significant, welcome book gives us so much to think about in the moving story of two people, trying to find their way into the world and each other's lives"
—The New York Times Book Review

"An engaging study of the couple's courtship and marriage in light of the social customs of the period, both within and outside the African American community. . . Highly recommended."
—Library Journal, starred review

"Tells a fascinating tale of two compelling figures whose lives were intriguing, at times harrowing, and in many ways tragic. At the same time, Alexander investigates a broader topic. . .A riveting narrative."
—Martha Hodes

Sexism, racism, self-hatred, and romantic love: all figure in prominently in this scholarly-but nicely hard-boiled-discussion of the bond between the famous Paul Laurence Dunbar and his wife Alice. Eleanor Alexander's analysis of turn-of-the-twentieth-century black marriage is required reading for every student of American, especially African-American, heterosexual relationships."
—Nell Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton UniversityAuthor of Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol

"Rich in documentation and generous in analysis, Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow advances our understanding of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American social and cultural history in compelling and unexpected ways.By exposing the devastating consequences of unequal power dynamics and gender relations in the union of the celebrated writers, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, and by examining the hidden underside of the Dunbars' storybook romance where alcohol, sex, and violence prove fatal, Eleanor Alexander produces a provocative, nuanced interpretation of late Victorian courtship and marriage, of post-emancipation racial respectability and class mobility, of pre-modern sexual rituals and color conventions in an emergent elite black society."
—Thadious M. Davis, Vanderbilt University

"Eleanor Alexander's vivid account of the most famous black writer of his day, Paul Laurence Dunbar,and his wife Alice, illuminates the world of the African American literati at the opening of the twentieth century. The Dunbars' fairy-tale romance ended abruptly, when Alice walked out on her alcoholic, abusive spouse. Alexander's access to scores of intimate letters and her sensitive interpretation of the Dunbars mercurial highs and lows reveal the tragic consequences of mixing alcohol, ambition and amour. The Dunbars were precursors for another doomed duo: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Alexander's poignant story of the Dunbars sheds important light on love and violence among DuBois's "talented tenth."
—Catherine Clinton, author of Fanny Kemble's Civil Wars

"Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow debunks Dunbar myths...Lyrics asks us to consider the ways in which racism and sexism operate together."
— The CrisisOn February 10, 1906, Alice Ruth Moore, estranged wife of renowned early twentieth-century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, boarded a streetcar, settled comfortably into her seat, and opened her newspaper to learn of her husband's death the day before. Paul Laurence Dunbar, son of former slaves, whom Frederick Douglass had dubbed "the most promising young colored man in America," was dead from tuberculosis at the age of 33.

Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow traces the tempestuous romance of America's most noted African-American literary couple. Drawing on a variety of love letters, diaries, journals, and autobiographies, Eleanor Alexander vividly recounts Dunbar's and Moore's tumultuous affair, from a courtship conducted almost entirely through letters and an elopement brought on by Dunbar's brutal, drunken rape of Moore, through their passionate marriage and its eventual violent dissolution in 1902. Moore, once having left Dunbar, rejected his every entreaty to return to him, responding to his many letters only once, with a blunt, one-word telegram ("No").

This is a remarkable story of tragic romance among African-American elites struggling to define themselves and their relationships within the context of post-slavery America. As such, it provides a timely examination of the ways in which cultural ideology and politics shape and complicate conceptions of romantic love. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analysis of Race and Gender Relations
I think that this book was excellent in that it provides a foundation for finding new ways to analyze history, seeing as how the history we are generally taught excludes people who were not members of mainstream society.A history that only focuses on mainstream society does not represent all of society and almost behaves as if other people did not exist or play major roles.Eleanor Alexander acknowledged that while there was not much documentation on the courtship and relations of the African American middle class, she was trying to start from the limited sources that werre available to provide a new perspective.In addition, this novel touched upon some very real issues that are known but underplayed, including the racism and self-hatred that was very prevalent among black people and the patriarchal society supported sexism that degraded the value of women.Eleanor Alexander never once claimed that her ideas were facts, but she provided valid reasons to support her claims.For example, she explained the fact that Alice's history is undocumented but she allowed room for the possibility that Alice may have unofficially told of her own history in her short stories.She also presented proof in Alice's own words that Alice disliked darker-skinned blacks and that Paul, a dark-skinned black who exhibited self-hatred because of his color, disliked yet desired light-skinned women, the closest to the American definition of beauty, a white woman.Alexander posed questions that would make the reader think "Was this a possible factor?"However, she did not attack Alice or Paul or make claims that could not be validated.Perhaps she may have appeared critical in her analysis of Paul and Alice and even society as a whole, but most importantly, she was objective.She did not make up things that were not true, and perhaps learning the negative truths about someone as famous as Paul Laurence Dunbar or his wife is unpleasing, but I appreciate her honesty.Another magnificent thing about this book is its analysis of gender relations and some of the practices that still exist today.The past does shape the present, and an excellent example she used was of rape and how society attributed more blame to the woman, as if the woman somehow did something to deserve it, and that is still a widespread problem today.Therefore, it is important that we are provided with an encompassing presentation of history that allows us to see how many problems arose in the past and why they are still perpetuated today.Like any writer, she has the right to present her ideas, and she deserves credit for the fact that she presented them with documented primary sources that urge us to consider at the very least the possible validity of her claims.
It is understandable if one says that she scratched upon surfaces that she did not follow through deeply, but it is important to keep in mind that she stated repeatedly that there was limited documentation and that she was merely trying to provide new possibilies that would stir more people to follow her lead and delve deeper.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for
I wanted to read a book about Paul and Alice Dunbar after reading some of their love poems and love letters to each other. I always found them a joy to read. I felt like the author analyzed too much in the book, to physiological for me. It almost seems like the author had something personal against Alice. It was always some physiological reason why Paul acted the way he did. Alice was portrayed as being stuck up because she was light skinned who thought she was better then dark-skinned people even though she married Paul who was dark-skinned. The fiction books that Alice wrote, the author took them to mean that is what Alice really thought, so I guess that mean that all fiction books are really nonfiction. How can you know what a person really think about something, unless you are that person? This view on Alice and Paul was not what I was looking for. I did learn some things about the black culture of that time.

3-0 out of 5 stars Close, but no Cigar
This book is riveting and provided fascinating new information about Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Moore Dunbar.At the same time, it scratches the surface in too many places, relying on feminist cliches instead of substantive analysis.This is clearly a dissertation that was published with out the skilled editing that allows the author to reach new conclusions.Too many times, I feel that a window had been opened for me to get a glimpse into lives, then swung shut before insights had been fully explored.

5-0 out of 5 stars Two Talented People - One Tragic Story
Paul Laurence Dunbar was a magnificent poet who is not known as well as he should be today. Alice Moore is a fascinating woman who deserves to be remembered in her own right. Together they would have seemed to be the perfect couple, living charmed lives. Sadly, their relationship was far from perfect. This book enables us to understand the forces that made these two talented people what they were, that drew them together, and that pulled them apart. Too often, African-American history deals only with slavery in the past and urban poverty in the present. This book shows the "ebony elite" that is too little known, in both its proudest and most difficult aspects. It is a fascinating story of individuals and of the culture that impacted their lives in many unfortunate ways. A compelling story, well-written. ... Read more

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