A pillar of African American literature, Richard Wright is one of the most celebrated and controversial authors in American history. His work championed intellectual freedom amid social and political chaos. Despite the popular and critical success of books such as Uncle Tom's Children (1938), Black Boy (1945), and Native Son (1941), Wright faced staunch criticism and even censorship throughout his career for the graphic sexuality, intense violence, and communist themes in his work. Yet, many political theorists have ignored his radical ideas.
In The Politics of Richard Wright, an interdisciplinary group of scholars embraces the controversies surrounding Wright as a public intellectual and author. Several contributors explore how the writer mixed fact and fiction to capture the empirical and emotional reality of living as a black person in a racist world. Others examine the role of gender in Wright's canonical and lesser-known writing and the implications of black male vulnerability. They also discuss the topics of black subjectivity, internationalism and diaspora, and the legacy of and responses to slavery in America.
Wright's contributions to American political thought remain vital and relevant today. The Politics of Richard Wright is an indispensable resource for students of American literature, culture, and politics who strive to interpret this influential writer's life and legacy.
"This is a very impressive volume. One of the many great strengths of the book is that it draws on such a diverse array of expertise, as well as on so many different methodological approaches. The inclusion of four works by Richard Wright is a wonderful innovation." -- Simon Stow, author of American Mourning: Tragedy, Democracy, Resilience
"Among the praiseworthy features of this manuscript is its inclusion of Wright's own words as a sort of backbone to the project, with a text from Wright launching each section. The reader is able to engage with Wright directly and to evaluate for oneself some of the readings that are presented in the analytical essays. That these texts mix the familiar ("Blueprint for Negro Literature") and the less familiar ("I Have Seen Black Hands") reminds the reader of the richness of Wright's oeuvre and inspires the reader to look for more sources." -- Vincent Lloyd, author of In Defense of Charisma
"There is no existing text that compares to this brilliant volume. The Politics of Richard Wright will become instantly the signature text on Wright's political thought. The book as a whole shall reshape the contours of Wright studies and the myriad fields to which Wright's political ideas have central importance. It is a must-read." -- Neil Roberts, author of A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass
"Gordon and Zirakzadeh have gathered essays that illuminate the complexities and paradoxes of Wright's literature and life. The collection analyzes Wright's views on race... sex, religion, and African independence movements.... Highly recommended." -- W. Glasker, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden, Choice