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In this vital and inspiring volume, John Edgar Wideman has brought together the first truly representative sampling of literature by African-American writers in the early centuries of our history. Reaching across periods, styles, and regional borders, Wideman has selected twelve works of genius–some of them celebrated literary icons, others neglected or forgotten masterpieces– and reprinted them in their entirety. The result is a book as thrilling in its passion as it is vast in scope.
Though these selections come from a range of genres (verse, memoir, historical, and personal narrative), they are all, fundamentally, stories of strength and survival. Frederick Douglass’s frank narrative of escape from slavery and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s classic verse take their place beside lesser-known works like Nat Love’s stirring account of life as a black cowboy, Ida B. Wells’s haunting descriptions of lynchings, and the crisp, compelling adventures of Olaudah Equiano. Wideman prefaces each selection with an illuminating biographical essay.
The fruit of a lifetime’s devotion to the best American writing, My Soul Has Grown Deep will stand as an enduring monument to the depth and beauty of African-American literature.
“My Soul Has Grown Deep is a devastatingly important work that deserves a place in every library and personal collection. This is a provocative anthology that will surely become a classic for anyone who wants a true record of the brilliant black writers and scholars who helped shape America. Wideman has struck gold once again.”
–LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM
Author of Our Kind of People:
Inside America’s Black Upper Class
“No one bears keener witness to stony paths and impassable obstacles of United States black history than John Edgar Wideman. He is an intellectual of the first magnitude.”
Author of Singers of Daybreak:
Studies in Black American Literature
“My Soul Has Grown Deep, an appropriately reflective title for the history it encapsulates, is a superb tribute to the efforts of visionary African-American women and men who laid the foundation of the literary/cultural journey of blacks in America. Masterfully conceived, the collection includes a complement of writers, some who are now household names in the academy, others who are only familiar to scholars in the field, and many unknown to readers outside of those worlds. One of the great gifts of this anthology is that it will be welcome to all three groups.”
–NELLIE MCKAY, coeditor
The Norton Anthology of