The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories

Charles W. Chesnutt
Introduction by Earl Schenck Miers
Chesnutt writes of the black search for identity in the period between the Civil War and the turn of the century


Black literature in America took a long time maturing. The earliest black writers after the Civil War ignored the rich potentialities in the subject of race relations and wrote instead of the plantation tradition long after its demise. This collection of nine short stories by Charles Chesnutt was the first black fiction to attract the attention of the white literary world and reading public as a serious treatment of social problems in postbellum society.

Chesnutt writes here of the Black's search for identity in the tumultuous period between the Civil War and the turn of the century. His characters are the mulatto, the rising middle-class Black, the freed slave; his themes are the tensions of interracial and intraracial living which are still relevant today.

The publication of this book, in 1899, and three later novels secured for Chesnutt a reputation as a pioneer in Black literature and as an important influence on modern Black fiction, which began to flourish in the 1920's. His books are not judged on their racial interest alone, however. These stories in particular have undeniable artistic merit: the characters are vivid and their conflicts and solutions are expressed with great poignancy and force.

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) grew up in the South during what he called "one of the most eventful eras of its history." Self-educated beyond grade school, he became a respected educator, lawyer, and author.

Product Details

  • 5 x 8.
  • 336pp.
  • 3 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1968
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06134-1

Add to Cart
  • $17.95 U.S.