Richard Wright’s Native Son


Coinciding with the preparations for the celebration in 2008 of Richard Wright’s 100th birthday, this new collection of critical essays on Native Son attests to the importance and endurance of Wright’s controversial work. The eleven essays collected in this volume engage the objective of Rodopi’s Dialogue Series by creating multidirectional conversations in which senior and younger scholars interact with each other and with previous scholars who have weighed in on the novel’s import. Speaking from distant corners of the world, the contributors to this book reflect an international interest in Wright’s unique combination of literary strategies and social aims. The wide range of approaches to Native Son is presented in five thematic sections. The first three sections cover aspects such as the historical reception of Wright’s novel, the inscription of sex and gender both in Native Son and in other African American texts, and the influence of Africa and of vortical symbolism on Wright’s aesthetics; following is the study of the novel from the point of view of its adoption and transformation of various literary genres—the African American jeremiad, the protest novel, the crime novel and courtroom drama, the Bildungsroman, and the Biblical modes of narration. The closing section analyzes the novel’s lasting influence through its adaptation to other artistic fields, such as the cinema and song in the form of hip-hop. The present volume may, therefore, be of interest for students who are not very familiar with Wright’s classic text as well as for scholars and Richard Wright specialists.

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An Afro-Americanist, Ana María Fraile currently teaches postcolonial literatures at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Her more recent publications include the book Planteamientos estéticos y políticos en la obra de Zora Neale Hurston (2003); chapters about Zora Neale Hurston, Gayl Jones, Alice Walker and Joy Kogawa in the Rodopi series Perspectives on Modern Literature, edited by David Bevan; and journal articles on African American women writers such as Toni Morrison. She is also the editor of bilingual (English/ Spanish) editions on the works of Jacob A. Riis, Como vive la otra mitad, Langston Hughes, Oscuridad en España, and Zora Neale Hurston, Mi gente! Mi gente!, and the co-editor of The Impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms(1982-2002): European Perspectives. She has been the recepient of numerous grants and scholarships, among which are the Fulbright research grant, and several scholarships granted by the Canadian Government in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Faculty Enrichment Program.
”[…] the strength of this collection lies in the wider scope of the dialogic vision it establishes.” in: African American Review, Vol. 43.2-3
General Editor’s Preface
Richard Wright and the Reception of His Work
Caleb CORKERY: Richard Wright and His White Audience: How the Author’s Persona Gave Native Son Historical Significance
Philip GOLDSTEIN: From Communism to Black Studies and Beyond: The Reception of Richard Wright's Native Son
Gendered Textualities
Yvonne ROBINSON JONES: Sexual Diversity in Richard Wright’s Characterization of Bigger Thomas: Homo-socialism, Homo-eroticism, and the Feminine
Carol E. HENDERSON: Notes from a Native Daughter: The Nature of Black Womanhood in Native Son
Spatial Dynamics
Babacar M'BAYE: Slavery and Africa in Native Son and Black Power: A Transnationalist Interpretation
Herman BEAVERS: Vortical Blues: Turbulence, Disorder, and the Emplotment of Surplus Meaning in Native Son
A Polyphony of Genres
Ana María FRAILE-MARCOS: Native Son’s “ideology of form”: The (African) American Jeremiad and American Exceptionalism
Heather Duerre HUMANN: Genre in/and Wright’s Native Son
Carme MANUEL: Bigger’s “Rebellious Complaint”: Biblical Imagery in Native Son
Native Son Beyond the Page
Raphaël LAMBERT: From Page to Screen: A Comparative Study of Richard Wright’s Native Son and Its Two Film Adaptations
James Braxton PETERSON: The Hate U Gave (T.H.U.G.): Reflections on the Bigger Figures in Present Day Hip Hop Culture
Notes on Contributors