Langston Hughes – The Life, Times, Works as well as the impact of a versatile African-American Writer

Langston Hughes stands as a literary and cultural translation of political resistance and the campaign of the black consciousness leader like Martin Luther King, the rights of black citizens, and thus meets the ethos of the American dream, which is widely celebrated every year around February for the restoration of April.

Hughes's compelling sense of social and cultural purpose, his sense of the past, present and future of black America pays tribute to his life and boundworks as much to learn from having to bring us to go further and to inform and guide our steps as we move to create a great future.

Hughes is also important because it seems to be conveniently spans the genres: poetry can, drama, novels and criticism of an indelible stamp on each. At age 21 he had in all four (published 4) areas. Because he always considered himself an artist in words that would venture into every single area of literary creativity, because there was Readers, for a story meant more than just a poem or a song lyric meant more than a story, and Hughes wanted to achieve the individual and his kind.

But mainly, as he himself was a poet. He wanted to be a poet who focuses on the needs of the people in his poems, which might, no formal training or extensive literary background could be read address. Despite these Hughes wrote and directed dozens of short stories, about a dozen books for children, a history of> National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), two volumes of autobiography, libretti, song lyrics and so on. Hughes had driven a pure confidence in his versatility and power of his craft.

Hughes' commitment to Africa was really concrete and in words and deeds. The fact that his Negro-ness (although light skin tone) has awakened in him a desire to establish from the other side of the Color Line, which they refuse to challenge:

My old man is awhite old man

And my old mother is black

My old ma died in a beautiful big house

My crazy died in a hut

I wonder where I'm gonna die

Since I am neither white nor black?

His search for his roots received impetus in 1923 when Hughes met and heard back Marcus Garvey exhorting blacks go to Africa to escape the wrath of the white man. Hughes was then one of the poets who thought they felt the beatings of jungle tom-toms on the pulse of the Negro. "Your verses took aimagine nostalgic mood, and some of them that they were the rhythms of African dance and music in their verses infusion as we could read this poem in mind: "Danse Africaine"

The low beating of the tom toms,

The slow beating of the tom toms,

Low … slow

Slow … low —

It stimulates your blood.


A night veiled girl

Vortex gently into a

Circle of Light.

Eddy softly … slow,

Born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902, Hughesgrew up in Lawrence, Kansas and Lincoln, Illinois, before the high school in Cleveland, Ohio, was in the places it is part of a small community of blacks, whom he, however, fundamentally linked from early in his life. While descending from a distinguished family, his childhood was disrupted by the separation of his parents not long after his birth. His father then emigrated to Mexico, where the success he hoped the win had eluded him in America. The color of his skin, he hadhoped would be less a provision for its future in Mexico. There, he broke new ground. He gained success in business and spent the rest of his life as a lawyer and wealthy landowners.

In contrast, Hughes' mother of the transience of life is often lived together for black mothers to leave their son in the care of her mother in search of a job.

His maternal grandmother, Mary Langston, whose first husband was in Harpers Ferry as a member of the band John Brown's death,and whose second husband (Hughes's grandfather) was a militant abolitionist. Hughes conveyed a sense of devotion most. Hughes successively lived with family friends, then various relatives in Kansas.

Another important family figure was John Mercer Langston, a brother of the grandfather Hughes, one of the best-known black Americans of the nineteenth century.

Hughes later joined his mother, although she is now with his new stepfather in Cleveland, Ohio.At the same time, Hughes struggled with a sense of abandonment, neglect fostered by the parents. He recalls early is driven by his loneliness' to pound, and the wonderful world of books. "He was with the materialist values of his father and contemptuous conviction that were blacks, Mexicans and Indians, disillusioned, lazy and ignorant.

At Central High School, Hughes drew academically and in sports. He wrote poems and short fiction for the school literary magazine and editor of theSchool year book. He returned to Mexico, where he taught English briefly and wrote poetry and prose for publication in the magazine The Crisis of the NAACP.

Supported by his father, he came to New York in 1921, ostensibly to Columbia University, but really it was to see Harlem. One of his greatest poems, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was has just been published in the crisis. His talent was recognized immediately though it lasted only a year at Columbia University, where he is good but it isnever felt comfortable.

On campus, he was subjected to bigotry. He was assigned the worst dorm because of its color. Instruction in the English literature were all he could bear. Instead of attending classes, which he found boring, he would often show, sponsored lectures and readings from the American Socialist Society. It was then that he was first introduced to the laughter and pain, hunger and sorrow of blues music. It was the night life and the culture that lured him fromCollege. The bittersweet blues songs for him a prisoner of the intense pain and longing that he saw around him, and that he was in poems like "The Weary Blues."

Hold oneself erect as a poet and supported by his mother, in turn, Hughes served as a delivery boy for a florist, a vegetable farmer and a mess boy on a ship on the Hudson River. As part of a merchant ship crew, he sailed to Africa. He then traveled the same route to Europe, where he jumped ship to spend in Paris, onlyseveral months working in a nightclub kitchen and then migrate to Italy.

From 1924 his poems, which he had spent all this time showed the strong influence of blues and jazz. His poem "The Weary Blues," the best example of this influence instrumental in building his career when he first prize in the poetry section of the 1925 literary contest of the magazine a chance to win a literature prize in crisis.

This landmark poem, the first of all poets usethat the basic blues form is a part of the quantity of the same title, whose entire collection reflects the atmosphere of Harlem frenetic nightlife. Most of his selection as "The Weary Blues" approximation of the phrasing and meter blues, a genre popular in the early 1920s by rural and urban blacks. In him and others in plays like "Jazzonia" Hughes recalled the wild hedonistic and glittering atmosphere of Harlem's famous night-clubs. Poetry of social commentary such as "Mother to Son" showLike blacks to be hardened to provide the many hurdles that it through the struggle of life.

Hughes's earliest influences as a mature poet, interestingly, came from white writers. We have Walt Whitman the man who opened his artistic violations of the old conventions of poetry, the boundaries of poetry in new forms like free verse. There is also a very populist white German immigrant Carl Sandburg, who was a Hughes lodestar "in leading him to the ultimate freeVerse and a radically democratic modernist aesthetic

But black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, a master of both dialect and standard verse, and Claude McKay, the black radical socialist an immigrant from Jamaica, who also wrote lyric poetry, was for him as the epitome of cosmopolitan and yet confident, racial and Hughes hoped to be hired black poet. He was also due to older black literary figures like WEB Dubois and James Weldon Johnson, who admired his workand helped him. WEB Dubois' Pan-Africanist collection of essays Souls of Black Folks significantly influenced many black writers such as Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

Such color positive images and feelings, as in "People": The night is beautiful / So the faces of my customers and in "Dream There: The night was tenderly / Black like me. Endeared his work to a wide range of Afro – Americans, for whom he pleased in written form.

Hughes had always shownExperiment to determine, as a poet and not slavishly follow the tyranny of narrow strophic forms and exact rhyme. He seemed like Watt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, prefer the verses that captured the reality of American language and not vote as a "poetic language" and with the ear mainly due to the diversity of black American language writing.

"Weary Blues" combines these various elements of the common language of ordinary people, jazz and blues music and the traditional formspoetry, which are adapted to African American and American themes. In his adaptation of traditional poetic forms first to jazz to blues, then sometimes with a dialect, but in a way radically different from earlier writers, Hughes was also due to its early experiments with a loose form of rhyme that is often a way of invention rhythmic free verse served:

Ma ma baby

Got two mo 'ways

Two mo 'ways to do de buck!

Even radical experimentation with newthe blues form to run his next collection, beautiful dresses on the Jews. Perhaps his only book was the most beautiful verses, including a few ballads, beautiful clothes and his worst welcomed.

Several guests in black newspapers and magazines have been saddened by Hughes' fearless and "tasteless" Summon the elements of the lower class black culture, including their often raw eroticism, has never dealt with in serious poetry.

Hughes expressed his determination to write about such peopleand to experiment with blues and jazz, wrote in his essay "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain." Published in the Nation in 1926

"We … younger artists intend to express our individual dark skin themselves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If she does not, it does not matter. We know we are beautiful and ugly."

Hughes, his determination to write to express, fearlessly, shamelessly and unrepentantly about low-class black life and the people, despiteUnlike the. He also exercised much more freedom to experiment with blues and jazz.

The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they do not their displeasure does not matter, either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know, as we are high on the mountain, free within ourselves.

With his advocacy of such ideas, the defense of freedom of the black writer, Hughes has been a silver lining on the horizon to younger writerswho would assert their right to explore and exploit supposedly degraded aspects of the black population. He thus provided the movement with a manifesto so skillfully argue the need for both race pride and artistic independence in this, his most memorable essay

In 1926, Hughes returned to the school in the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he continued publishing poetry, short stories and essays in the mainstream and black-oriented magazines

In 1927,together with Zora Neal Hurston and other writers, he founded a literary magazine Fire for African – American culture and dedicated at the destruction of older forms of black literature. The company itself was short-lived. It was engulfed in the fire along with their editors.

Then a 70 – year-old wealthy white patrons entered his life. Charlotte Osgood Mason, who started managing virtually every aspect of the life of Hughes and art. Their passionate belief in parapsychology, intuition andPopular culture was in the surveillance of novel writing, that Hughes': Not without Lauqhter is drawn in which his childhood in Kansas, for the life of a sensitive black child, Sandy, growing up in a prestigious show class.mid mid-West Africa — American home.

Hughes' relationship with Mason came to an explosive end of 1930. Hurt and Mason's baffled by the rejection, Hughes used money from a price recovery up to several weeks spent in Haiti. From the intense personal unhappinessand depression, it had fallen into the intermission.

Back in the USA, Hughes made a sharp curve on the political left. His poems and essays have been can now be published in New Masses, a journal of the Communist Party-controlled. Later that year he began touring.

The Renaissance, which was long over for Hughes replaced by a sense of necessity of political struggle and for an art that reflects this radical approach. But his career, in contrast to other then just survived the end of theMovement. He stopped the production of his art in accordance with his sense of himself as a thoroughly professional writer. He published his first collections, which are often bitter and bitter The Ways of White Folks.

Hughes' main concern now was the theater. Mulatto, his drama of race-mixing and the South was the longest-running play by them African American Broadway until Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun appeared in the 1960s. His plays – comedies, and the ramasdomestic black American life, especially – were also very popular with black audiences. With innovations such as theater-in-the-round and calling the public's participation, the expected Hughes to work the later avant-garde playwrights like Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. In his play Hughes urban dialogue, folk music and a thematic focus on combining the dignity and strength of black Americans.

Hughes wrote other plays, including comedies such as Little Ham (1936) and a historical drama,Emperor of Haiti (1936), most of which only moderate success. In 1937, he spent several months in Europe, including a long stay in besieged Madrid. In 1938 he returned to find their way home to the Harlem Suitcase Theater, which staged his agitprop theater Do not You Want To Be Free? employ some of his poems, vigorously blended black nationalism, the blues, and socialist exhortation. That same year, a socialist organization published a pamphlet of his radical verse, "A New Song."

TheBeginning of World War II, Hughes returned to the political center. The Big Sea, his first volume of his autobiography, with its memorable portrait of the Renaissance and his African journeys in an episodic, lightly comic writing style, almost no mention of his left hand seemed sympathetic.

In his book of verse Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), he even sang the blues. On the other hand, this collection, and another, his Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943), strongly attacked racialSegregation.

In poetry, he once again his interest in some of his old themes and forms, as in Shakespeare in Harlem (1942). South and west, with poetry to the people. He read his poems in churches and schools. He sailed from New York for the Soviet Union. He was invited to a gang of young African-Americans to participate in a film about American race relations are increasing.

The film-making venture, but without success, proven to improve his short storywriting. While in Moscow he was the similarities between the characters in a DH Lawrence's hit title story from his collection, The Lovely Lady and Mrs. Osgood Mason. Through the power of stories Lawrence's overwhelmed, Hughes began writing short fiction by him. After his return to the U.S.. until 1933 he had sold three stories and had begun, the preparation of his first collection.

Perhaps his finest literary achievement during the war was writing a weekly column in the Chicago Defender from 1942until 1952. The highlight was, one of which failed Harlem character called Jesse B. Semple, or simple, and its replacement with a quiet, narrator in a neighborhood bar where Simple commented on a variety of issues, but mainly about race and racism. Simple became Hughes's most famous and beloved fictional creation. and one of the freshest, most intriguing and enduring characters in American fiction Negro Jesse B. Simple, Harlem is an Everyman, whose comic manner barely conceals a portion of theserious issues in terms of Hughes Simple deeds in the proverbial "wise fool", whose experience and understand the frustrations of the uneducated findings raised black in America .. His honest and naive eye sees through the superficiality, hypocrisy and duplicity of the white and black Americans alike. From his stool at the bar, Paddy's is a charming brand of English, Simple comments from both clever and hilarious on many things, but mainly based on race and women.

His bebop shapedPoem Montage of a Dream Deferred (1991) is seen as a shift in Harlem, fertile with humanity, but in decline. In it, the sharply deteriorating condition of Harlem in the 1950s is compared to Harlem in the 20s. The exuberance of the night-club life and the vitality of the cultural renaissance is over. An urban ghetto plagued by poverty and crime has entered his body. A change in the rhythm parallels the change in tone. The smooth patterns and gentle melancholy of the blues are replaced by the sudden,fragmented structure of the post-war jazz and bebop. Hughes was aware of what in the Afro-American world and what was coming. Therefore, this book of poetry is so much against the new and relatively new be-bop jazz rhythms, dissonance, you making the statement that the new charges have been efforts of black communities in the cities of the North emphasized.

Hughes' much of his life living in basements and attics brought a lot of realism and humanity to his writingespecially his short stories. He stayed so close to his vast public as he figuratively kept moving through the cellars of the world where his life is at its thickest, in which common people are struggling to make their way. At the same time, writing in attics, he got turned onto the long term, which radiate it humanization, embellishment, but still true light on what he saw.

Hughes' stories reflected his whole purpose as a writer. To interpret for his art, "the objective of beautyhis own people ", he felt they were not taught either see or not to be proud in. In all his stories, his humanity, his faithful and artistic presentations of both racial and national truth – his successful mediation between the beauties and terrors of life around him, illuminating all. from certain topics, technical merits or social insights loom.

"Slave to the block," for example shows a simple but vivid history of the lack of respect and human communication,between blacks and whites, the tutelage and cosmetics.

Hughes also took time for children produced the successful Popo and Fifina (1932), a story set in Haiti, with Arna Bontemps to write. He later published a dozen children's books, on topics such as jazz, Africa and the Antilles. Proud of his versatility, he also wrote a commissioned history of the NAACP and the text of a much praised pictorial history of black America, The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), where he explicatesPhotos of Harlem by Roy DeCarava, which was adopted by masterfully by reviewers and confirmed Hughes reputation for unparalleled command of the nuances of black urban culture.

Hughes is in constant harassment about his relationship with the Left. In vain he protested had never been a communist all of these links separately. In 1953 he was subjected to public humiliation in the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy, when he was forced to appear in Washington, DC, and testify officially abouthis policies. Hughes denied that he was ever a communist, but admitted that some of his radical verse advising been sick.

Hughes career hardly suffered from it. Within a short time McCarthy himself discredited. Hughes then wrote at length in I Wonder as I Wander (1956), his much-admired second volume of autobiography. about his years in the Soviet Union. He was wealthy, although he has always worked hard for its level of prosperity. In the 1950s he turned to theMusical stage for success when he tried to repeat his success of the 1940s, when Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice had chosen him as a copywriter for their Street Scene (1947), to. This production was hailed as a breakthrough in the development of American opera, it was Hughes, the seemingly endless cycle of poverty, he was locked up in the end. He bought a house in Harlem.

By the end of his life, Hughes almost universally recognized as the most representative writer inthe history of African American literature, and also probably the most original of all African-American poet. He became so widely recognized for the "Poet Laureate" of the Negro Race!

According to Arnold Rampersad, an authority on Hughes:

Many of his works celebrate the beauty and dignity and humanity of black Americans. Unlike other writers Hughes basked in the glory of the obviously high regard of his primary audience, African-Americans. His poetry, with itsOriginal jazz and blues influence, and his powerful commitment to democracy, is written almost certainly the most influential of a person of African descent in this century. Some of his poems, "Mother to Son" are virtual anthems of black American life and aspiration. His plays alone … could secure him a place in African American literary history. His character simply the single most memorable character is formed of black journalism. "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" istimeless, "it seems that an explanation of the constant dilemma facing the young black artist, caught between the contending forces of black and white culture"

Freed from the examples of free verse, Hughes's poetry of Carl Sandburg has always aims for complete openness and simplicity. In this context, the notion that he almost never seems to work the romantic poets revised, how and show that poetry is believed a "spontaneous overflow of emotions".

Like Walt Whitman, Hughes's greatpoetic ancestors in the poetry of America's …, Hughes has to believe in the poetry of emotion, to the power of ideas and feelings that went over questions of technical craft. Hughes was never a writer who carefully shaped rhyme and verse, and thus the emotional core of what he had planned to lose to say.

His poems with the distinctive diction and cadences of Negro idioms in simple verse patterns and strict rhyme schemes of blues songs are imbued with it enabled him to catchAmbience of the institution and the rhythms of jazz music.

He wrote primarily in two modes / Directions:

(i) texts on the life of black rhythms and refrains from jazz and


(ii) the poems of racial protest

are exploring the boundaries between black and white America. and thus contribute to raising awareness and black pride, racial heritage as well as the Harlem Renaissance to the most militant decades. Although he never militantly deny cooperationwith the white community, the poems of protest against white racism are to draw boldly.

In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" the simple, direct and free verse makes it clear that dark rivers in Africa coincides with the poet's soul, as he draws spiritual strength and personal identity from the collective experience of his ancestors. The poem is to Rampersad, "reminds us that the syncopated beat, which brought the Africans in captivity with him," found that its firstExpressed here clap "hands, feet stamping, drum will beat rhythms of the human heart (4 to 5), as" old as the world. "

But what Hughes is better known for his treatment of the possibilities of African-American experiences and identities. Like Walt Whitman, he created a person who speaks for more than himself. His voice in "I also take" for example, the representation of an entire people in its central consciousness, as he laments:

I, too, sing America

I amthe darker brother.

I too am America.

The "darker brother" celebrating America is safe for a better future when it no longer be pushed aside by "enterprise". The poem is of faith Hughes in the race consciousness of African-Americans, an awareness that reflects their integrity and beauty at the same time respect and acceptance from others as especially demanding when Nobody '/ I dare say to me, eating in the kitchen characteristic.

This stubborn resistance andOptimism in addressing the emergency is what Hughes' life on.thus enabling him to survive, the focus and reach, despite the obstacles before him. confirmed as Rampersad:.

"Toughness was an important feature of life, Hughes'. Because his life was hard. He certainly knew poverty and humiliation in the hands of people with much more power and money, when he and little respect for writers, especially poets. Through all his poverty and hurt, Hughes kept on a steady keel. He was a gentleman, a gentle manwas in many respects, the sympathetic and affectionate, but it was hard to the core.

Hughes poetry reveals an appetite for all humanity, his insistence on justice for all, and his belief in the transcendent possibilities of joy and hope that make room as he strives "I was in too," America's for everyone at the table.

This deep love for all mankind is in an echo of his poems: "My People" a few lines, the previously mentioned:

The night is beautiful,

so that the faces of themy people

The stars are beautiful,

so that the eyes of my people

Well, well, the sun

Also nice are the souls of my people

Arnold Rampersad the final word over humanity Hughes, is anchored on three key features: his tenderness, generosity and sense of humor.

Hughes was also announced. He had loved a man who was Lovse and other people. It was very difficult for anyone who knew him, say, would find a hard thing about him. People who knew himcould remember, something that is not pleasing him. Apparently, he radiated joy and humanity and that was how he remembered after his death.

He loved the company of people. He had to have people around him. He needed her, perhaps on the essential loneliness of his soul from early in his life and from whom he inspired to meet his literary art.

Hughes was a man of great generosity. He was generous, the young and the poor, the poor, he was generous, even to his rivals.He was generous to a fault, so for those who do not always deserve his kindness. But he was willing to risk ingratitude, particularly to help young artists and young people, in general.

Hughes was a man of laughter, even though his laugh was almost always in the presence of tears or the threat posed by the surge of tears. Goya's title of his first novel Not without Laughter and a collection of stories Laughing. indicate. This was essentially how hebelieved that life must be faced – with the knowledge of its inevitable loneliness and pain, but with the awareness and treatment of laughter with which we maintain that man, given the circumstances. We need to reach people, and one should not only an amazing tolerance of suffering of life, but also the complete exuberantly happy aspect of life.

His humor is back from a writer from Africa, as Hughes was also credited faced with the struggle against racialDiscrimination and disadvantage, Ezekiel Mphahlele.

Here is a man with a boundless zest for life … He has an irrepressible sense of humor, and meeting him is the encounter with the essence of human goodness face. Despite his literary success, he has earned the respect of the younger Negro writers who never find him, not willing to help them with. And yet he is not condescending. Unlike most blacks, famous or well-being and move to high-quality residential areas, he hascontinue in Harlem, which is to live under a Negro ghetto, in a house he bought with money earned as a copywriter for the Broadway musical "Street Scene.

In the explanation and illustration of the Negro in America as a condition of his appointment was declared Hughes took their pleasures and the veiled weariness of their lives, the monotony of their work, and the veiled weariness of their songs. He achieves this in poems not only remarkable for its directness and simplicity, but for theirEconomy, clarity and wit. Whether he poems of racial protest as "Harlem" and "the owner" or poems of racial affirmation such as "Ballad Mother to Son" and "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Hughes was able to find language and forms that do not express only the pain of urban life, but also its wonderful vitality.

Further reading:

Gates, Henry Louis and Nellie Mc Kay, Y. (Gen. Ed) The Norton

Anthology of African American Literature, NW Norton & Co., New York &London 1997

Hughes, Langston, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" 1926th Rpt

in Nathan Huggins, ed. Voices from the Harlem Renaissance, Oxford

University Press, New York, 1976

Mphahlele, Ezekiel, "Langston Hughes," Introduction to African

Literature (ed) Ulli Beier, Longman, London 1967

Rampersad, Arnold, The Life of Langston Hughes Vol 1 & 11 Oxford

University Press, N. York, 1986

Trotman, James, (ed.): Langston Hughes: TheThe man, his art and his

Continuing influence N. Garland Publishing Inc.

York & London 1995

Black Literature Criticism

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Oxford University Press, 1997

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