Richard Wright: Contribution as American Author

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      Richard Wright (1908-1960), was an African American novelist and social critic. Born in Natchez, Mississippi, he lived in Memphis and Chicago before he moved to New York in 1937. His family was share-cropping family and his father deserted when the hoy was still five. At that, he was working on a novel Lawd Today was published posthumously in 1963. His first collection of short stories Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) was about racism, and title was ironically entitled. The second novel Native Son (1940) with its memorable portrait of rebellious Bigger Thomas brought him a widespread recognition. The protagonist, an uneducated black youth, mistakenly kills his white employer’s daughter, gruesomely burns the body, and murders his black girlfriend-fearing she will betray him.

      In 1940, he left US to live in Mexico and then 1946, he moved to Paris where he remained the rest of his life. His other unknown novels are - The Outsider (1953), chronicling a black interectual’s search for identity, Savage Holiday (1954) and The Long Dream (1958). Eight Men (1961) post unanimously published is a collection of short stories, radio-plays and a novella and an autobiography. His harsh childhood is depicted in one of his best books, his autobiography, Black Boy (1945). He later said that his sense of deprivation, due to racism, was so great that only reading kept him alive.

      His non-fictional work includes Twelve Million Black Voices (1941) an illustrated folk history of the Black Americans. American Hunger, a sequel to Black Boy got published posthumously in 1977. He also published three books of social criticism, and inspired by his travels: Black Power (1954), about Africa The Color Curtain (1956), about Asia and Pagan Spain (1957). A collection of racial justice, Whiteman, Listenl appeared in 1957. For Wright, literature was coextensive with life. They were coextensive but not to be confused with each other. As he says that in those staples of literature, “image and emotion possess a logic of their won.”

      The social criticism and realism of Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis especially inspired Wright to write his. During the 1930s, he joined the Communist Party. In the 1940s, he moved to France, where he knew Gertrude Stein and Jean-Paul Sartre and became an anti-Communist. His outspoken writing blazed a path for subsequent African-American novelists. Although some African-Americans have criticized Wright for portraying in black character as a murderer, Wright’s novel was not necessary and overdue expression of the racial inequality that has been the subject of so much debate in America.

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