J. Saunders Redding (1906−1988) was often and justifiably called "the dean of African American scholars." As professor and man of letters, he wrote about African American literature and culture in vivid and scholarly prose. And of all the writers of his generation, he best represented, and came closest to explaining, the hopes and conflicts of American democracy in a multiracial society. Yet his perceptions and writings were never limited to race, nationality, academia, or one literary genre.
In this first published anthology drawn from Redding's books, essays, and speeches, Faith Berry has compiled representative selections from every period and genre in which Redding wrote: autobiography, fiction, biography, history, journalism, travelogue, and literary criticism. The collection offers a wide range of his thought and criticism from numerous publications, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of his works.
Redding is essential reading for all those who argue for or against the intellectual credo he espoused: that African American writing and culture be studied in the context of American life and culture, not in insolation.
This useful and balanced edition of Redding's writing should serve to introduce him to a new audience certain to find his texts worthy of attention and discussion. Readers concerned with literary and social history, higher education, race relations, American and ethnic studies, foreign affairs, cultural exchange -- or indeed the humanities in general -- will find this work an important resource. Contemporary African American scholars will value the book as a lasting reference. And anyone unfamiliar with Redding's work will discover and appreciate the breadth of his contributions to scholarship and literature.
"Hubbard influenced Berry in the 1960s when Berry's world view was taking shape, and now Berry has returned with his full powers to validate something which helped him then to find his way." -- Journal of Appalachian Studies
"Presents a broad selection of Redding's work, including excerpts from On Being Negro in America, They Came in Chains, and Stranger and Alone." -- Library Journal
"A welcome resource for of students of African American literature and culture." -- American Literature