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The Wisdom Of W.E.B. Du Bois (Wisdom…

The Wisdom Of W.E.B. Du Bois (Wisdom Library)

by Aberjhani

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Regretfully, I`m going to have to damn this with faint praise.

On the positive side, I`ve always enjoyed books of quotations, and it was a great pleasure to read a lot of these selections - some familiar, some unfamiliar. It reminded me what drew me to Du Bois in the first place and was certainly a thought provoking collection. On that basis, I`ve got to give it a generous rating.

On the negative side, I do think certain standards have to be adhereed to, and I`m not sure Aberjhani was the man for the job.

Firstly, the quotations are grouped in sections by subject matter, each section introduced by the editor. At a number of points we seem to stray from the matter in hand to address the editor`s more spiritual concerns (`spiritual` is a word he uses quite a bit, I notice)."Love provided a pathway into hidden chambers of the spirit where nobility and compassion might be salvaged" the editor says at one point. "Blimey" says the reader "that`s a strange way to approach the works of W E B Du Bois !"

Secondly, a number of the quotes are rendered more or less meaningless by lack of context. "His revolt was against things unsuitable, ill adjusted and in bad taste..." Du Bois is quoted as saying. Who he was referring to remains a mystery. Some quotes,particularly the church-inspired rhetoric which appeared sometimes in early speeches and essays, seem to have been concluded just bcause they sound good - "The church is woman", "Thicken the thunder of God`s voice and lo ! a world awakes!" and so on. Doubtless these make sense in context, but what was he talking about ? What did he intend his audience to take away with them ? We don`t find out.

More seriously, on pacifism, religion and Marcus Garvey, quotes have been chosen which could mislead the reader as to Du Bois` actual views (though in fairness, the "I am a pacifist" quote is balanced by more characteristic quotes elsewhere in the book).

The annoying thing is, when Aberjhani wants to pull a rabbit out of the hat, he knows how to do it. His introduction to the section History and the World is masterful, and obviously a great deal of hard work has gone into compiling this volume. Many of the quotes are excellently chosen.

My main criticism has to be that this is, overall, a very good book. With only a little more self-discipline and attention to detail it could have been an excellent one. ( )
  nickhoonaloon | Oct 13, 2006 |
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