by Richard Wright
Richard Wright: The Early Years
Richard Wright grew up in the Jim Crow south during the 1910's through the 20's. His sharecropper father abandoned the family when Richard was still a child and in 1920 his mother became a paralytic, leaving Richard's illiterate grandmother to raise him. He published his first short story, The Voodoo of Hell's Half-Acre, at the age of 16 in 1924. In 1927 he moved to Chicago, where he worked at many diverse jobs and joined an intellectual arm of the Communist Party called the John Reed Club. He also wrote an early novel during this time. But his literary career didn't truly begin until he moved to New York in 1937. It was there he published his book of short stories, entitled Uncle Tom's Children. in 1938. Two years later Native Son was published to rave reviews and became the first best-selling novel by an African American.
Plot in Native Son
|The author Richard Wright|
Influence and Criticism
The novel, as Wright said in his essay, How Bigger Was Born, was one that he needed to write, a book that bankers' daughters would not be able to "read and feel good about". Wright wanted his character Bigger to be seen as a product of the White dominated, and inevitably racist world which regrettably still exists to some extent today. It is in some respect a caveat to an angry world. Native Son is considered Wright's most influential work. He's been called the father of African American literature, although James Baldwin has most notably criticized this work as a "protest novel", in a series of essays published in 1949. Baldwin wrote. "The failure of the protest novel lies in its rejection of life, the human being, the denial of his beauty, dread, power, in its insistence that it is his categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended."
Native Son survives today as a classic of it's genre, reader's are still horrified by it's ugly truths. It stands as a testament to the ultimate failure of a racist society.
- Title: Native Son
- Author: Richard Wright
- Paperback: 594 pages
- Publisher: HARPER PERENNIAL (1996)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0010WECYW
Other titles by Richard Wright include:
Uncle Tom's Children
Source: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/r_wright/wright_life.htm - Richard Wright's Life by Ann Rayson