Review by Choice Review
Bassett's bibliography helps understand the literary climate in which these authors worked. It facilitates access to materials that chronicle, in part, the literary, social, political, and cultural models that were being imposed, and sometimes just as tellingly, not imposed upon the works of African American authors. The time period is the Harlem Renaissance and just beyond, that era after WW I when African American musicians, writers, and artists of all kinds experienced a comparative wellspring of support and recognition. That this was also the period in which, with few exceptions, African American authors continued to receive little or no published commentary is perhaps one of the strongest statements this compilation makes. Critics (both black and white) had some difficulty deciding how literature written by African Americans was to be treated. Should its main purpose be to "uplift the race," or should it be judged as a study in anthropology or as social protest? Bassett's text takes us from before the Harlem Renaissance to just prior to WWII, and along the way introduces us to a number of not-so-well-known authors and reintroduces us to some who by now are nearly household words. The bibliography consists of five chapters arranged chronologically. Individual titles are treated in order of publication and most entries are annotated to include brief quotes from the original reviews. A section on general criticism and scholarship rounds out each chapter. Chapter 5 extends the historical scope of the text by offering selected criticism covering the period 1940-44. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate collections, especially programs that are strong in African American studies. F. D. Goff; Bryn Mawr College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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