The Marrow of Tradition (Norton Critical Editions)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The Norton Critical Edition of this hugely influential novel gives readers the fullest possible sense of its historical background and critical assessment.
Inspired by the 1898 Wilmington Riot and the eyewitness accounts of Charles W. Chesnutt’s own family, Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition captures the astonishing moment in American history when a violent coup d’état resulted in the subversion of a free and democratic election.
The Norton Critical Edition text is based on the 1901 first edition. It is accompanied by a note on the text, Werner Sollors’s insightful introduction, explanatory annotations, and twenty-four photographs and illustrations.
“Contexts” connects the novel to the historical events in Wilmington and includes a wealth of newspaper articles, editorials, and biographical sketches of the central players.
The account of riot instigator Alfred Moore Waddell, published just weeks after the event, is reprinted, along with three rarely seen letters: W. E. B. Du Bois’s and Booker T. Washington’s comments on the novel and Walter Hines Page’s letter to Chesnutt. Rounding out the historical record is a selection of 1890s sheet music, a poem, and newspaper articles on the Cakewalk, a popular dance of the period with roots in slavery.
“Criticism” begins with twelve contemporary reviews, including those by Hamilton Wright Mabie, Katherine Glover, William Dean Howells, and Sterling A. Brown. Fifteen recent assessments focus on the novel’s characters, history, realism, and violence. As scholarship on The Marrow of Tradition and on Wilmington in 1898 has been especially active since the 1990s, ten assessments are from this period.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
visitor at the house. These, with the family itself, which consisted of the major, his wife, and his half-sister, Clara Pemberton, a young woman of about eighteen, made up the eight persons for whom covers were laid. Ellis was the first to arrive, a tall, loose-limbed young man, with a slightly freckled face, hair verging on auburn, a firm chin, and honest gray eyes. He had come half an hour early, and was left alone for a few minutes in the parlor, a spacious, high-ceilinged room, with large
night. I have a revolver, and know how to use it. Whoever attempts to rob me will do so at his peril.” After dinner Clara played the piano and sang duets with Tom Delamere. At nine o’clock Mr. Delamere’s carriage came for him, and he went away accompanied by Sandy. Under cover of the darkness the old gentleman leaned on his servant’s arm with frank dependence, and Sandy lifted him into the carriage with every mark of devotion. Ellis had already excused himself to go to the office and look over
loving woman, and felt righteously indignant toward her sister’s husband, who had thus been instrumental in the humiliation of her own. Her anger did not embrace her sister, and yet she felt obscurely that their unacknowledged relationship had been the malignant force which had given her husband pain, and defeated his honorable ambition. When Dr. Price entered the nursery, Dr. Burns was leaning attentively over the operating table. The implements needed for the operation were all in readiness —
sexual assault was the cloak behind which disfranchisement was hidden, part of the greater charade of plantation mythology that set out to restore southern pride and revive a paradigm of white manliness that the legacy of the war and the economic and political rise of blacks during Reconstruction had called into question. By the 1880s, ceremonial bereavement had begun to give way to ceremonial celebrations of southern heroes, one aim of which was to revive the stricken image of masculinity.
to right a wrong, to remedy an abuse, to save our state from anarchy and our race from humiliation. I don’t object to frightening the negroes, but I am opposed to unnecessary bloodshed.” “I ’m not quite so particular,” struck in McBane. “They need to be taught a lesson, and a nigger more or less would n’t be missed. There’s too many of ’em now.” “Of course,” continued Carteret, “if we should decide upon a certain mode of procedure, and the negroes should resist, a different reasoning might