Rare first edition of this novel by a pillar of the Harlem Renaissance, following a middle-class Black family as they grapple with relationships, miscegenation, and how their community perceives them.
Very good plus.
"He is a dark American who wears his joy and rue very much as does the white American. He may wear it with some differences, but it is the same joy and the same rue."
Jessie Fauset strove to write stories of Black Americans beyond the sensationalism and suffering, instead grounding them in underrepresented experiences. As the literary editor of the NAACP's magazine THE CRISIS under W. E. B. Du Bois, Fauset noted that "it is urgent that ambitious Negro youth be able to read of the achievements of their race" (Johnson). Accordingly, the characters of THE CHINABERRY TREE are Black professional men and women, people who experience prejudice but still lead bourgeois lives. Historian Ann Ducille identifies Fauset as being among the "first Black women artists to depict successful, independent, single Black professional and working-class women." This choice of subject matter was particularly impactful, as Fauset was writing at a time when some creators sought to present Blackness as more of a spectacle.
This copy was once part of the Forbes & Wallace Circulating Library, a library located within a department store; its numerous checkout stamps over a short period of time are a testament to Fauset's popularity. All of her novels are rare on the market.
Read more: Ann Ducille, "Blues Notes on Black Sexuality," Journal of the History of Sexuality vol. 3 no. 3; Abby Arthur Johnson, "Literary Midwife: Jessie Redmon Fauset and the Harlem Renaissance," Phylon vol. 39 no. 2.
New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1931. 7.5'' x 5.25''. Original orange cloth binding with black lettering. Fore-edge machine deckle. 342 pages. Summary from dust jacket tipped onto front pastedown. Forbes & Wallace Circulating Library checkout form tipped onto rear pastedown. A few tiny spots of soil to binding, mild edgewear; light sunning to spine. Leaves uniformly mildly toned. Sound and bright.
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