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The souls of Black folk : authoritative text, contexts, criticism
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Author Notes
Civil rights leader and author, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. He earned a B.A. from both Harvard and Fisk universities, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard, and studied at the University of Berlin. He taught briefly at Wilberforce University before he came professor of history and economics at Atlanta University in Ohio (1896-1910). There, he wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903), in which he pointed out that it was up to whites and blacks jointly to solve the problems created by the denial of civil rights to blacks. In 1905, Du Bois became a major figure in the Niagara Movement, a crusading effort to end discrimination. The organization collapsed, but it prepared the way for the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in which Du Bois played a major role. In 1910, he became editor of the NAACP magazine, a position he held for more than 20 years. <p> Du Bois returned to Atlanta University in 1932 and tried to implement a plan to make the Negro Land Grant Colleges centers of black power. Atlanta approved of his idea, but later retracted its support. When Du Bois tried to return to NAACP, it rejected him too. <p> Active in several Pan-African Congresses, Du Bois came to know Fwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, and Jono Kenyatta the president of Kenya. In 1961, the same year Du Bois joined the Communist party, Nkrumah invited him to Ghana as a director of an Encyclopedia Africana project. He died there on August 27, 1963, after becoming a citizen of that country. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
First Chapter or Excerpt
From Farah Jasmine Griffin's Introduction to The Souls of Black Folk Since its publication in the spring of 1903, The Souls of Black Folk has became a founding text of African-American studies: Its insistence on an interdisciplinary understanding of black life, on historically and philosophically grounded analysis, on the scholar's role as advocate and activist, and on close study of the cultural products of the objects of examination-all became tenets of the study of black life in United States. In its insistence that any understanding of the United States has to be attentive to the contributions and struggles of black Americans, Souls has also contributed to a revision of American history and culture. Furthermore, in recent years the book has spoken to students of postcolonial and critical race studies as well. However, the text was never meant for a purely academic audience. And perhaps here lies its greatest contribution: It is a brilliant, multifaceted, learned book addressed to an intelligent lay audience as a means of informing social and political action. Du Bois's best-known intellectual contributions are introduced here: "double consciousness," "the Talented Tenth," "the Veil," and the Du Bois versus Washington debate (see "Comments and Questions) that has characterized our understandings of black leadership throughout the twentieth century continue to be the major contributions of the text, and they have been explored and written about at length. With these concepts, Du Bois provided a basic vocabulary and foundational language for scholars and students of African-American history and culture. Double consciousness defines a psychological sense experienced by African Americans whereby they possess a national identity, "an American," within a nation that despises their racial identity, "a Negro." It also refers to the ability of black Americans to see themselves only through the eyes of white Americans, to measure their intelligence, beauty, and sense of self-worth by standards set by others. Du Bois defined the Talented Tenth as "leadership of the Negro race in America by a trained few." In The Souls of Black Folk, he envisions this educated elite at the vanguard of racial uplift. Later in his life he disavowed this theory. Du Bois's ideas have been explored in detail, but only recently, through the efforts of black feminist writers such as Hazel Carby, Joy James, and Nellie McKay, has his notion of black leadership as fundamentally masculine received scholarly attention. These writers have opened up new ways of reading The Souls of Black Folk . Another distinctive feature of the book is Du Bois's consistent use of the first person, his insertion of himself as a subjective student of and participant in black life and culture. In the opening pages, he introduces himself to his reader in the following manner: "And, finally, need I add that I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil." With this Old Testament allusion Du Bois establishes his relationship to the people about whom he writes as one of sacred matrimony: of man to woman, of husband to wife. In Genesis 2:23 Adam says of Eve: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Du Bois's use of the Veil, the enduring metaphor of the book, not only refers to that which separates black from white, to that through which black folk peer at the world, but it might also be the veil that covers women's faces in many religious traditions. So those who live beneath the Veil, the black folk, might be gendered as female-ever mysterious, unknowing, and unknowable-while the black elite, intellectuals and leaders, are gendered male. Du Bois promises readers that he has "stepped within the veil" and raised it to expose "deeper recesses." While he elsewhere claims to have lived behind the Veil throughout his life, here he positions himself as someone who dwells both within and just outside its cover-and, most important, as the investigator, the communicator, the native informant who can render the mysteries behind the Veil known. The fourteen chapters that follow this promise represent Du Bois's best efforts to make known the strivings and yearnings of black folk in the United States of America. There is something, however, that remains unknowable and impenetrable even to this great bronze Adam. In the first nine chapters, all of which were revised from previously published essays, Du Bois turns to academic fields of knowledge such as history, sociology, and philosophy to assist in his interpretation of the complexity of black lives. While these fields help to provide the framework for his analysis, his prose is shaped by biblical and mythological narrative, metaphor and allusion. In the last five chapters, only one of which had been published previously, though they are still informed by philosophy, sociology, and history, Du Bois turns to elegy, poetry, religion, and song. In doing so, he attempts to better understand and express the longings of those who live beneath the Veil; consequently, he turns his critical eye to black people and their culture in an effort to comprehend how they have made sense of the absurdity of their situation. Excerpted from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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  Library Journal Review

Du Bois's 1903 classic is one of many large-print standards being released by Transaction. Other new titles in the series include Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy (ISBN 1-56000-523-8), Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (ISBN 1-56000-517-3), H.G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau (ISBN 1-56000-515-7), Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (ISBN 1-56000-507-8), E.M. Forster's A Passage to India (ISBN 1-56000-507-6), and Scott Fitzgerald's The Ice Palace and Other Stories (ISBN 1-56000-511-4). These are available in a mixture of paperback and hardcovers, with prices ranging from $17.95 to $24.95. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This collection of essays on African American history, culture, and society probes fundamental issues of race and justice and documents Du Bois's conviction that the "soul" of the black community must be preserved and revered.nbsp; The text reprinted here is that of the first book edition (1903)."Contexts" presents a fascinating collection of political and biographical documents related to the text. Also included are eighteen photographs that accompanied Du Bois's 1901 article "The Negro As He Really Is.""Criticism" offers thirteen contemporary and recent assessments of Du Bois and Souls, rounding out the picture of this enduring work.
Table of Contents
The World of W. E. B. Du Bois and The Souls of Black Folkp. ix
Introduction    Farah Jasmine Griffinp. xv
The Souls of Black Folkp. 1
Appendixp. 191
Endnotesp. 197
Inspired by The Souls of Black Folkp. 203
Comments & Questionsp. 205
For Further Readingp. 211
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