A History of Afro-American Literature (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Blyden Jackson’s ambitious history of Afro-American literature begins propitiously with this substantial volume, which traces the history of the slavery of black people and carries its consideration to the period when the United States was moving from an agrarian society, much of it formerly dependent upon the productivity of its slaves, to an industrial society that had to devise ways to accommodate the needs of those who had been displaced from farm jobs, black and white alike.
Jackson’s book is divided into sections that consider the age of apprenticeship and the age of the abolitionists. His future volumes will focus on the age of the Negro nadir, 1895- 1920; the exciting period of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1930; the age of Richard Wright, 1930-1960; and the age of the black militant. Obviously, the dramatic changes in Afro-American literature have been concentrated in a relatively short time span from about 1900 to the racial activism and turmoil of the 1960’s.
Jackson’s historical introduction traces the slave trade to 1441, when Antam Goncalvez captured some olive-complected African natives, presumably Moors, and took them to Portugal as slaves. On the way his ship’s course intersected with that of Nuno Tristao, a Portuguese captain, with whom Gonalvez captured more Africans to transport to Portugal.
The main body of this volume, however, begins with “Bars Fight” by Lucy Terry (1730-1821). Anyone who has...
(The entire section is 1859 words.)
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