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A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

by Lorraine Hansberry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,902761,955 (3.79)148
When it was first produced in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life. "A play that changed American theater forever."… (more)

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» See also 148 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
I loved this story, my first play book that I read. So much humanity in this book, the good, the ugly, and how to keep dreaming despite the hardships and awful truth of reality, at times. The characters were great and became a part of me. Looking forward to seeing this as a real life play someday. ( )
  MorrisonLibrary21512 | Jan 11, 2023 |
Though I knew it, until reading [b:A Raisin in the Sun|5517|A Raisin in the Sun|Lorraine Hansberry|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1165522672s/5517.jpg|3154525] I had never contemplated the idea that nearly every African American lives with the identity of slaves as their ancestors. They live on this quarter of the world because someone wanted to own their family generations ago. I can do no more than imagine it yet I assume that's an incredibly disquieting reality.

[b:A Raisin in the Sun|5517|A Raisin in the Sun|Lorraine Hansberry|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1165522672s/5517.jpg|3154525] presents a different kind of disquieting reality, full of identity and history and dreams and squandered ambitions and open future and hope. It's distinctly black, distinctly Chicago, and distinctly poor, yet the dreams and hopes are universal and the characters ubiquitous (read, human). After the Younger family is given $10,000 (about $82,000 in 2016 dollars), they have to decide the best way to use it to build a better life. As a black family living at the cusp of civil rights, where can they go and what can they do yet still be accepted? Does that matter? Do they live as blacks unapologetically and with dignity? Or do they sacrifice dreams and dignity in the face of a culture that refuses them their humanity?

I loved this play. I read it but I'd also love to see it performed. [a:Lorraine Hansberry|3732|Lorraine Hansberry|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1234149147p2/3732.jpg] was but 29 when she wrote this; a young gifted black woman in a culture that had continually rejected her for at least those three reasons. Yet, in her own dignity, she overcame. Her battles continue to be fought daily. The best end I can give here is her words on artistry and the cultural impact that artistry has:

I am a writer. I suppose I think that the highest gift that man has is art, and I am audacious enough to think of myself as an artist - that there is both joy and beauty and illumination and communion between people to be achieved through the dissection of personality. That's what I want to do. I want to reach a little closer to the world, which is to say people, and see if we can share some illuminations together about each other.

Lines I liked from the play:

- "You never understood that there is more than one kind of feeling which can exist between a man and a woman - or at least - there should be."
"No - between a man and a woman there need be only one kind of feeling. I have that for you - Now even - right this moment -"
"I know - and by itself - it won't do. I can find that anywhere."
"For a woman it should be enough."
"I know - because that's what it says in all the novels that men write. But it isn't."
- "I want so many things... I want so many things that they are driving me crazy. Sometimes it's like I can see the future stretched out in front of me - just plain as day. The future, Mama. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me - a big, looming blank space - full of nothing. Just waiting for me. But it don't have to be."
- Then isn't there something wrong in a house - in a world - where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man?"
- "Just sit a while and think - Never be afraid to sit a while and think."
- "There is always something left to love. If you ain't learned that you ain't learned nothing. [...] Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most - when they when they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well, that ain't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in hisself 'cause the world done whipped him so… When you starts measuring somebody - measure him right, child. Measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is."
- ...above all [Negros] have among our miserable and downtrodden ranks people who are the very essence of human dignity.
- …I think that the human race does not command its own destiny and that that destiny can eventually embrace the stars…
- I have treated Mr. Lindner as a human merely because he is one; that does not make the meaning of his call less malignant, less sick.
- ...attention must be paid in equal and careful measure to the frequent triumph of man, if not nature, over the absurd. Perhaps it is here that certain of the modern existentialists have erred. They have seemed to me to be overwhelmed by the mere fact of the absurd and become incapable of imagining its frailty. ( )
  gideonslife | Jan 5, 2023 |
Review to come. ( )
  BooksbyStarlight | Oct 25, 2022 |
We’ll written play. My sons freshman class had this for their summer reading list. Curious how they all thought of it. ( )
  scamp1234 | Aug 7, 2022 |
Every bit as relevant now as when it was first performed in 1959. ( )
  wandaly | Jan 8, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hansberry, LorraineAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, OssieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gresham, JoiForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kutsch, ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nemiroff, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

—Langston Hughes
To Mama:
in gratitude for the dream
First words
This is the most complete edition of A Raisin in the Sunever published.
--Introduction, 1988 edition.

The Younger living room would be a comfortable and well-ordered room if it were not for a number of indestructible contradictions to this state of being.
And we have decided to move into our house—because my father—my father—he earned it for us brick by brick . . . we don't want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that's all we got to say about that. . . . We don't want your money.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

When it was first produced in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life. "A play that changed American theater forever."

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