Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey, Langston Hughes recounts his travels during the 1930’s through the United States, Mexico, and Cuba and through Asia and Europe. Identifying himself as an African American, Hughes explores color lines and the effects of racism, but he also explores the surrounding issues of history, socioeconomics, and culture. The eight chapters of Hughes’s four-hundred-page autobiography are arranged thematically, chronologically, and geographically. Each chapter is divided into a series of vignettes, with a total of eighty-nine in the book. A critic for the Saturday Review described the autobiography well as “Hughes’s personal history intertwined with personal narratives of his travels—a sort of vagabondia.“

Hughes begins his autobiography by referring to the stock-market crash that began the 1930’s Great Depression. He writes that his personal Depression began a year later. Through Hughes’s accounts of his travels, Hughes shows his progress as a thinker and writer; he engages in his first lecture and reading tour; makes connections on issues of gender, race, and economics; and writes his first short stories.

The first chaper covers Hughes’s travels to Cuba and Haiti with his friend Zell Ingram, who attended the same high school in Cleveland that Hughes had attended a few years earlier. The second chapter covers Hughes’s lecture and reading tour, throughout which he...

(The entire section is 534 words.)


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Berry, Faith. Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem. New York: Wings Books, 1995.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Langston Hughes. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Chinitz, David. “Rejuvenation Through Joy: Langston Hughes, Primitivism, and Jazz.” American Literary History 9 (Spring, 1997): 60-78.

Cooper, Floyd. Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes. New York: Philomel Books, 1994.

Harper, Donna Sullivan. Not So Simple: The “Simple” Stories by Langston Hughes. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995.

Haskins, James. Always Movin’ On: The Life of Langston Hughes. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1993.

Hokanson, Robert O’Brien. “Jazzing It Up: The Be-bop Modernism of Langston Hughes.” Mosaic 31 (December, 1998): 61-82.

Leach, Laurie F. Langston Hughes: A Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Mullen, Edward J., ed. Critical Essays on Langston Hughes. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986.

Ostrum, Hans A. A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Tracy, Steven C., ed. A Historical Guide to Langston Hughes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.