Before and Beyond Harlem: A Biography of Langston Hughes by Faith BerryFaith Berry’s bio exposes his glob trotting life as the Tupac of his time, who with ceaseless pen, spread and pushed the poetical envelope, of race and class, (part of the foundation of today’s Hip Hop Culture) throughout some of America’s most hostile regions and into the far more welcoming and enthusiastic region of Europe and Asia. And like today’s Hip Hop Culture, the Black Bourgeoisie called his poetry “ghetto” and representative of the worst of Black America. Some of Hughes mostly lively moments were his years in the Soviet Union as a guest of their government, where he boldly traveled, mostly alone, through some of the most remote and inhospitable regions, reminiscent of Alexander of Macedon’s travels throughout Asia minor. But while Alexander is known for brutal war of conquest, oppression, and slaughter, Hughes blazed a bright trail, quickly becoming legend as a revolutionary Black poet, dramatists, journalist, novelist and human rights activist.
Also highly interesting is Hughes’s journalistic reporting, which all most costs him his life several times, from the battle grounds, of the savagely violent Franco Fascist takeover of Spain’s democratic government, that precluded to the rise of Nazi Germany. Hughes also covered the service of numerous
Black Americans who were inspired -as volunteers- to travel to Spain to fight and die, (unreported by the American mainstream press) to support the populist leftist Government of 2nd Spanish Republic. Many Blacks also volunteered and died, performing military support roles such as driving ambulances and delivery trucks.
Hughes joined and became friends with journalists from all walks of life including Ernest Hemingway, who all attempted to expose the American governments support for the Fascists and Nazis destruction of the democratically elected and popular government in Spain during a time when most white Americans violently opposed any government with a socialistic bent
Sadly, there is deep missing in this book, a void that probably, simply cannot be filled given the very private nature of Langston Hughes, which I’m sure is connected to his furtive life as a gay black man. Langston still had brief, but romantically colorfully dalliances with talented, intelligent, and beautiful women from across the globe, which seem to provide him with some of the deep intimacy, that this highly sensitive man craved, but that was ultimately forbidden to him (as it was for so many of those trapped in his same boat) which therefore rendered these relationships more platonic, as each one ultimately turned from passionate spring love, to burningly complicated summer, and then dead but longing melancholy winter, because Langston ultimately couldn’t give them what they all craved, which was all of him. We don’t know if any of the Langston ladies, knew of his true sexuality, because in hiding such a large portion of himself, think how many biographies center also on wives, husbands, and long lovers, this book lakes all of this, which again is not the fault of the writer, but is deeply endemic of the man himself, which becomes to a major undercurrent of this brilliant book
Indeed Langston in many ways was a drifting soul who’s only roots were his work and his tumultuous relationship with his endlessly needy, dependent, and hapless mother, who Langston often put her needs, (even the most frivolous over his which added another layer of melancholy on top of their problematic relationship, which created so much angst mixed with profound love for a women who ultimately could not find the type of love she too desired and deserved.
Langston Hughes dislike for Chicago, which was also shared with Martin Luther King is also notable Chicago is one of the most fantastic towns outside of Shangha that I’ve ever been in. Its certainly is one of the chief abodes of the devil in the western hemisphere
Thank you! Berry follows young Langston b. A precocious poet, Langston dropped out of Columbia to see Europe in the s--working on ships, in menial Paris jobs. By the time he resumed undergrade life, he was a much-published confrere of Countee Cullen, Alain Locke soon a nemesis , and other Harlem Renaissance figures. And, after sour experiences with patronage Charlotte Mason and collaboration Zora Neale Hurston , the focus here settles chiefly on Hughes' travels and political passions through the Thirties: Berry prints much of his militant verse with only sporadic critical assessment ; she journeys with him, in sometimes-tedious detail, from Moscow through Asia, around the US, and over to Spain; she works hard at distancing him from the Communist Party line, but to little effect; she fills gaps and makes corrections re the Hughes memoirs. And, as for the long-veiled private life, Berry acknowledges Hughes' homosexuality with a sliver of pat psychology but remains excessively vague on specifics: the nature of a series of heterosexual ""romances"" is unclear, as is the Locke relationship; one can't tell if Hughes was a near-monk or promiscuous--a lack of vividness in portrayal which extends to the other aspects of his character too. With annoyingly sketchy treatment of such later landmarks as Street Scene one paragraph and the HUAC hearings, then, this ends up as a spotty disappointment in many ways.
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Langston Hughes - Leading Voice of the Harlem Renaissance - Mini Bio - BIO
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