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Native Son, Richard Wright by Richard Wright

Native Son, Richard Wright (original 1940; edition 1966)

by Richard Wright, Richard Wright (Preface), ILLUSTRATED BY MARGARET ELY WEBB (Illustrator), REILLY (Introduction)

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5,00559907 (3.91)241
Title:Native Son, Richard Wright
Authors:Richard Wright
Other authors:Richard Wright (Preface), ILLUSTRATED BY MARGARET ELY WEBB (Illustrator), REILLY (Introduction)
Info:A PERENNIAL CLASSIC, HARPER & ROW (1966), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read in 2009
Tags:READ >2011

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Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)


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I really thought this was interesting and very well written! The subject matter seems disturbing, yet it was done in such a realistic (and not horrific) manner. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I really thought this was interesting and very well written! The subject matter seems disturbing, yet it was done in such a realistic (and not horrific) manner. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
From Amazon: "Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America."
My Thoughts: This is a very thought-provoking book, very deep, although it is easy to read (if that makes any sense!). It is long, but really has a lot to say. I had to read it in bits and pieces because it's pretty heavy. But it's been on my list for so long, and I'm really glad that I've read it now. ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
wow, what a powerful book. It put me through the emotional ringer. I was disgusted, horrified, inspired, and terribly sad. I need some days to process this book so full review to follow on the blog (www.thereadersroom.org) shortly ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
I'm pretty sure most readers would agree that the first part of the book is what has kept its reputation intact over the years since it was written. The depiction of Bigger Thomas's personality, thoughts, emotions and crimes is vivid and shocking, even while understandable, at least to a degree. The first half of the book is astonishingly relevant today, as we continue to struggle with racial understanding and conflict, all these years later.

However, the book's vitality comes to something of a halt once Bigger is captured. At that point, a didactic plea for a Communistic view of society takes place through the mouth of the Jewish Communist lawyer, who takes on Bigger's case to prove a point.

The ending feels true again as Bigger returns to his visceral experience of what it is to be young and black in racist Chicago and asserts his right to exist as exactly what he is - and, the author would have us believe, as society has created him. Well worth reading today, despite the preachiness of the second half. ( )
  kishields | Jan 4, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wright, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, Dorothy CanfieldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olzon, GöstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rampersad, ArnoldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reilly, JohnAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solotaroff, TheodoreAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Oggi ancora il mio lamento è ribellione, la mia piaga è piu' grave dei miei sospiri" Libro di Giobbe, 22,3
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006083756X, Paperback)

Bigger Thomas is doomed, trapped in a downward spiral that will lead to arrest, prison, or death, driven by despair, frustration, poverty, and incomprehension. As a young black man in the Chicago of the '30s, he has no way out of the walls of poverty and racism that surround him, and after he murders a young white woman in a moment of panic, these walls begin to close in. There is no help for him--not from his hapless family; not from liberal do-gooders or from his well-meaning yet naive friend Jan; certainly not from the police, prosecutors, or judges. Bigger is debased, aggressive, dangerous, and a violent criminal. As such, he has no claim upon our compassion or sympathy. And yet...

A more compelling story than Native Son has not been written in the 20th century by an American writer. That is not to say that Richard Wright created a novel free of flaws, but that he wrote the first novel that successfully told the most painful and unvarnished truth about American social and class relations. As Irving Howe asserted in 1963, "The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever. It made impossible a repetition of the old lies [and] brought out into the open, as no one ever had before, the hatred, fear and violence that have crippled and may yet destroy our culture."

Other books had focused on the experience of growing up black in America--including Wright's own highly successful Uncle Tom's Children, a collection of five stories that focused on the victimization of blacks who transgressed the code of racial segregation. But they suffered from what he saw as a kind of lyrical idealism, setting up sympathetic black characters in oppressive situations and evoking the reader's pity. In Native Son, Wright was aiming at something more. In Bigger, he created a character so damaged by racism and poverty, with dreams so perverted, and with human sensibilities so eroded, that he has no claim on the reader's compassion:

"I didn't want to kill," Bigger shouted. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill! I must have felt it awful hard to murder.... What I killed for must've been good!" Bigger's voice was full of frenzied anguish. "It must have been good! When a man kills, it's for something... I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em. It's the truth..."
Wright's genius was that, in preventing us from feeling pity for Bigger, he forced us to confront the hopelessness, misery, and injustice of the society that gave birth to him. --Andrew Himes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:00 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Trapped in the poverty-stricken ghetto of Chicago's South Side, a young African-American man finds release only in acts of violence.

(summary from another edition)

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