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Twentieth Century Writers

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Historic Reading Posters ...

Ralph Ellison on Richard Wright Among Others... (Direction Magazine, 1941)

Printed just twelve years before he would receive a National Book Award for his tour de force, "The Invisible Man", celebrated wordsmith Ralph Ellison (1914 – 1994) wrote this review of "Negro fiction" for a short-lived but informed arts magazine in which he rolled out some deep thoughts regarding Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neil Hurston and assorted other ink-slingers of African descent:

"It is no accident that the two most advanced Negro writers, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, have been men who have enjoyed freedom of association with advanced white writers; nor is it accidental that they have had the greatest effect upon Negro life."

Click here to read a 1929 book review by Langston Hughes.

CLICK HERE to read about African-Americans during the Great Depression.

 

Rebecca West: The Last Birth of Time (Current Opinion, 1921)

Rebecca West (born Regina Miriam Bloch: 1892 – 1983) became a fixture on the literary landscape just prior to the First World War when she was recognized as a young, thought-provoking writer with much to say on many matters. The article serves as an interesting profile of the woman by compiling various remarks made during the course of her early career:

"She was fortunate in beginning her career at a time when English literature and journalism were alive with rebellious writers. In those happy days before the war, it was a constant gay fight in print for one's ideas and opinions, and Rebbecca West was soon in the front ranks of the rebels..."

 

The Rosettis (Vanity Fair, 1919)

Shortly after the death of William Michael Rossetti (1829 – 1919), Welsh poet and essayist Arthur Symons (1865 - 1945) wrote this essay remembering the man, his brother (Dante Gabriel Rossetti) and the friendship that the two shared with poets George Meredith and Algernon Charles Swinburne.

 

Jerome K. Jerome on Books (Literary Digest, 1906)

Jerome K. Jerome (1859 – 1927) was a British author and playwright from one of the sillier tribes who is best remembered for his humorous travelogue Three Men in a Boat (1889). In the attached interview, the humorist laments that the novels in his day (as opposed to our own) so seldom inspire any real use of the mind:

"Books have become the modern narcotic. China has adopted the opium habit for want of fiction. When China obtains each week her 'Greatest Novel Of The Century', her 'Most Thrilling Story Of The Year', her 'Best Selling Book Of The Season' the opium den will be no more needed."

From Amazon: Three Men in a Boat

 

Sean O'Casey: Laborer, Playwright, Poet (Stage Magazine, 1934)

Drama critic Ruth Woodbury Sedgwick interviewed Irish playwright Seán O'Casey (1880 – 1964) for the November, 1934, issue of STAGE MAGAZINE and wrote this piece which clearly illustrated his art and politics.

 

Harold Nicolson on Paul Verlaine (Current Opinion, 1921)

A review of Harold Nicolson's 1921 biography, "Paul Verlaine". Numerous aspects of Verlaine's life and poetry are discussed as are the roots of French Symbolism.

 


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