The Marrow of Tradition

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Graphic Arts Books, 2020 M12 8 - 226 pages

The Marrow of Tradition (1901) is a historical novel by African American author, lawyer, and political activist Charles Chesnutt. Based on the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898—in which a group of white supremacists rioted and overthrew the elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina, killing hundreds of African Americans and displacing thousands more—The Marrow of Tradition follows two interconnected families on opposite sides of the violence.

Set in the fictional city of Wellington, the story begins with Major Carteret, a white newspaper owner whose colleagues and powerful peers are growing increasingly outraged by widespread condemnation of local lynchings. At the same time, a black physician named William Miller is establishing a local medical practice while settling into married life with his wife, Janet, the unacknowledged half-sister of Major Carteret’s wife. When Polly Ochiltree, a local white woman, is murdered, a black servant named Sandy Campbell is initially accused. When the identity of the true killer—a white aristocrat—is discovered, however, and when authorities fail to arrest him, the racial tensions dominating Wellington reach their breaking point. The Marrow of Tradition is a harrowing story of family, race, and identity which brilliantly dissects the historical events of the Wilmington Insurrection without sensationalizing them. Although Chesnutt hoped that his book would help to improve race relations in the United States, the book was a commercial and critical failure. For readers today, however, the novel is a picture of how far we have come, and a chilling reminder of how far we have left to go.

With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition is a classic of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.

 

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User Review  - spoko - LibraryThing

Chesnutt was America's first successful black novelist. This book was written in 1901, and is based on an actual race riot that broke out in North Carolina a few years earlier. It's not nonfiction; it ... Read full review

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Contents

AT BREAK OF
THE CHRISTENING PARTY
THE EDITOR AT WORK
THEODORE FELIX
A JOURNEY SOUTHWARD
JANET 7 THE OPERATION
THE CAMPAIGN DRAGS
A WHITE MANS NIGGER
THE BABY AND THE BIRD
ANOTHER SOUTHERN PRODUCT
THE CAKEWALK
THE MAUNDERINGS OF OLD MRS OCHILTREE
MRS CARTERET SEEKS AN EXPLANATION
ELLIS TAKES A TRICK
THE SOCIAL ASPIRATIONS OF CAPTAIN MCBANE
Copyright

DELAMERE PLAYS A TRUMP

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About the author (2020)

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) was an African American author, lawyer, and political activist. Born in Cleveland to a family of “free persons of color” from North Carolina, Chesnutt spent his youth in Ohio before returning to the South after the Civil War. As a teenager, he worked as a teacher at a local school for Black students and eventually became principal at a college established in Fayetteville for the purpose of training Black teachers. Chesnutt married Susan Perry—with whom he had four daughters—in 1878 and moved to New York City for a short time before settling in Cleveland, where he studied law and passed the bar exam in 1887. His story “The Goophered Grapevine,” published the same year, was the first story by an African American to appear in The Atlantic. Back in Ohio, Chesnutt started the court stenography business that would earn him the financial stability to pursue a career as a writer. He wrote several collections of short stories, including The Conjure Woman (1899) and The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line (1899), both of which explore themes of race in America and African American identity as well as employ African American Vernacular English. Chesnutt was also an active member of the NAACP throughout his life, writing for its magazine The Crisis, serving on its General Committee, and working with such figures as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.

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