Discussion:
Conjure Tales and Other Fantasies by Charles Chesnutt: Introduction
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Joe Bernstein
2018-01-30 18:47:23 UTC
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Charles Chesnutt was not, despite the claims of some ill-informed
critics, a fantasist by nature. However, his first and biggest
literary successes involved fantasy, he wound up with a complex
relationship with it, and his last two published fictions were, by my
standards, genuine fantasy.

He was born in Cleveland in 1858. His family lived there and in
Oberlin, Ohio, until 1866, then returned to his parents' native land,
so he grew up in and near Fayetteville, North Carolina. His mother
died in 1871, after which a young relative of hers cared for the kids.
His father soon married this woman, leading to a bunch more kids, so
Charles Chesnutt had to start working. His teacher managed to keep
him learning some by hiring him as an assistant; teaching became
Chesnutt's main work for the next decade, taking him several places
in North Carolina, and he wound up succeeding his original teacher,
as second principal of the state's school for black teachers,
established back in Fayetteville. By then he'd married (a fellow
teacher) and had kids of his own. He'd pursued a ferociously
disciplined program of self-education; partly to record this, he kept
a journal, in which he also wrote his first stories and poems. He
had big aspirations both for achievement - focused on racial matters
- and for wealth, and had somehow convinced himself that writing, I
kid you not, was a road to the latter. The stories apparently
portrayed animals realistically; one example at least got published,
his first publication so far known, in 1875; it's available online,
URL below.
In 1883, after half a year trying out New York City, he settled in
Cleveland, and brought his family there the next year. One of the
things he'd taught himself was stenography; he wound up working for a
lawyer, and became a court reporter. He passed the Ohio bar, and set
up in business for himself notionally as a lawyer, but most of his
income came from court reporting, which eventually made him sometimes
the richest black man in Cleveland. Meanwhile, he set seriously to
work as a writer. His goal was to write novels (where he thought the
money was), but he knew he wasn't ready yet, so he wrote short
fiction. He made at least one sale in 1885, several in 1886, and
over a dozen in 1887. One of that spate sold to <The Atlantic
Monthly>; he'd Arrived. That was his first "conjure" story - his
first story of any kind to come near fantasy - and what I called his
first literary success.
The "conjure" stories have this framework: The narrator is a
northern white man whose wife comes down sickly, so he buys an old
plantation in North Carolina to go into winemaking. There he finds
an old black man who used to be enslaved on that plantation; this man
becomes an employee of his. In most of the stories, this man, Julius
McAdoo, tells a story, which is the main burden of Chesnutt's story,
but at the end of the latter, the narrator and his wife respond to
the internal story in different ways - the narrator usually finding
some way McAdoo has conned him. Most but not all of McAdoo's stories
are, to us, fantasies, usually involving one or more "conjure"
workers, whose conjurations, in these stories, often involve physical
transformations of people. Most, perhaps all, are set during slavery
times (unlike the frame stories).
Chesnutt continued to produce a fair amount of short fiction
through 1889, but thereafter focused on other things - starting his
business, visiting Europe for the first time, writing novels, and
pushing the <Atlantic>'s publishers, Houghton Mifflin, to publish a
book by him. The first and shortest of the novels, <Mandy Oxendine>,
rejected in 1897 and finally published in 1997, is the most cheerful
of four novels that focused on race in the Carolinas, although people
die in each; the other three of these are the novels actually
published in his lifetime. Those three each at least refer to the
fantastic; this one, which focuses on an interracial triangle around
the titular woman, doesn't. The next novel he submitted instead
focused on white characters in the North in its story of a young
woman seeking the reason for her father's ruin; <A Business Career>,
also rejected (in 1898), also without reference to anything
fantastical, and also relatively cheerful, finally saw print in 2005.
The <Atlantic> did publish a non-fantasy story in 1898; it was hugely
popular, and finally convinced Houghton Mifflin to try a book under
his name - a collection of "conjure" stories, in each of which, at
their request, McAdoo's story would be fantasy. So Chesnutt's first
book and biggest literary success was arguably fantasy, which is why
literary critics who don't know what they're doing see him as a
fantasist turned realist.
Since <The Conjure Woman>, 1899, sold reasonably, Houghton Mifflin
came out with another collection the same year, for the Christmas
market, <The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line>;
it didn't sell nearly as well. Nevertheless, having taken the plunge,
they stuck with Chesnutt. (Partly because another publisher had
released his biography of Frederick Douglass, *also* in 1899, which
apparently sold like hotcakes.) For a while they urged and Chesnutt
worked on revisions to <The Rainbow Chasers>, another white-focused
novel, in which a reclusive scientist who thinks he's on the track to
riches neglects his finances, so ends up in a boarding house where he
Learns About Life. But then he interested his favourite <Atlantic>
editor, who'd become a partner at Doubleday, in the story he'd been
working on throughout the 1890s and had finally gotten to (shortish)
novel size; when he informed Houghton Mifflin of this, they decided
to take that instead. The surviving manuscripts of <The Rainbow
Chasers> are a mess, so it's his only novel not yet published.
Anyway, his first *published* novel is <The House Behind the Cedars>,
1900, which became in the end a fairly stereotypical "tragic mulatta"
story; its chapter X refers to prophetic dreams, but without the
conviction that leads me to list below a story focusing on those. In
1901 came <The Marrow of Tradition>, which Houghton Mifflin promoted
heavily, and which may well be his best-crafted novel; it interweaves
dramatic personal issues for its many POVs with the essentially
straight-from-the-headlines story of the first major US "race riot"
(meaning, until the 1960s, determined efforts by whites, usually
organised, to massacre blacks), which had been used in 1898 to
overthrow the local government of Wilmington, North Carolina, not far
from where Chesnutt grew up.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmington_insurrection_of_1898>
Because the book's POVs include superstitious, illiterate, older
black characters, and because the story works in such dramatic
emotions in general, it comes across as the most fantastical of his
novels, even though the conjure woman it mentions gets no lines, and
the "ha'nt" (ghost) one character thinks he sees gets a perfectly
mundane explanation.
<Marrow> pretty much sank, despite so much critical praise that
some of it even came from the South, and Chesnutt gave up on writing
as a profession. He'd told people in New York that he'd closed his
stenography business for a year or two; if so, that ended a month or
so after <Marrow> came out. In the short run, he seems to have kept
writing anyhow. He tried another white-focused novel, <Evelyn's
Husband>, in which the men who'd competed over a young woman end up
on a desert island together; it got rejected in 1903. (In both <A
Business Career> and, with some strain to the story, <Evelyn's
Husband>, he makes it clear that his leading ladies are good at
business. The latter is probably the worst of his novels I've read.)
He did get one more novel published, from Doubleday at last, <The
Colonel's Dream>, 1905. This focuses primarily on the POV of the
titular ex-Confederate, who'd gone north and made millions, then
comes back to his Carolina hometown and tries to use his money for
its benefit; this ends badly, because it's in the interest of a local
guy much like Potter in <It's a Wonderful Life> that that town
continue to suffer, and because the colonel is less reliable than
Jimmy Stewart; so despite a fairly placid surface, it's fundamentally
profoundly bleak, and audiences unsurprisingly stayed away. Its
chapter XVI features an abbreviated ghost story. Chesnutt even got a
play produced in 1906 (or so some say - it anyway *didn't* reach New
York). <Mrs. Darcy's Daughter>, apparently a crime story rather than
an Austen sequel, survives but has never been published. I list
below a story from 1906; "Baxter's <Procrustes>", from 1904, is in my
opinion, and, I think, others', his best non-"conjure" story.
Still, poor sales were an existential crisis not only for his
ability to get published, but for his interest in writing fiction.
He'd aspired to both achievement and wealth; obviously unpopularity
meant he wouldn't get the latter from his writing. But he'd also
understood his achievement goal differently from what you might
expect. He'd wanted not to uplift his own race, but to uplift whites,
to make whites aware of what slavery and the continued enforcement of
the "color line" did not only to hold blacks down but to deform
whites as well. If his fiction didn't sell, he wasn't doing that
*either* - so why should he write it? He did publish two non-
speculative stories in 1912 and 1915, but both had been written by
1904. Instead, for years, he focused not only on his business but
also on his kids' establishment in careers, his own establishment in
the upper middle class (social clubs and such), *and* on *non*-
fiction writing, working that way as well as others on local and
national efforts to ameliorate blacks' status. He remained
nationally known primarily for those efforts, rather than for his
fiction. He maintained good relations with both Booker T. Washington
and W. E. B. Du Bois, staking out his own view between them, that
what blacks needed most, North and South, was their legal rights, and
that if these rights were protected, the problem would eventually
solve itself through the kind of interbreeding he himself, with two
white grandfathers and two mulatto grandmothers, represented. (He
was never loud on an issue many abolitionists had moved on to by the
1870s, women's rights, but did explicitly and publicly recognise the
link between blacks' struggle and women's; URL below. I don't think
he ever took the *next* step, into the temperance fight.)
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Essays/womens.html>
His health also started to go, starting with a stroke the year he
wrote that brief essay, in 1910.
Chesnutt's late-life silence, then, has become part of his
standard story - but guess what? It isn't entirely true. In fact,
his old age is when I think he really did become, to some extent, a
fantasist. He took a partner into his business, a white woman, in
1918, and although he never entirely retired, she gradually assumed
more and more of the work; maybe this enabled a late burst of writing,
in between health scares and other things. He tried to interest the
publishers of <Frederick Douglass> in a collection of "dialect"
stories already in 1919. They rejected <Aunt Hagar's Children>, and
no copy has been found. But his previous collections had both
contained more than 50% new material, and Houghton Mifflin still had
the rights to most of his best existing "dialect" stories, so the
lost manuscript was probably largely new stories. Furthermore, it
seems reasonable to figure that, as with his previous "dialect"
stories, some of these might have been fantasy.
Next came two more novels. Both are built around the same notion,
a kind of non-speculative fantasy: a man brought up "black", though
by looks able (like Chesnutt himself) to pass for white, learns that
in reality he doesn't have any black blood at all - but rejects his
legitimate place in the master race. As in real-life "passing", in
both cases the man would have to give up his previous life, which
helps make sense of the decision; in fact it re-creates the choice
Chesnutt himself made in the 1870s, when some relatives of his may
well have chosen differently. Anyway, it didn't convince publishers.
<Paul Marchand, F.M.C.>, whose titular is a free man of color in New
Orleans in 1821, and whose reasonably colourful, implausible surface
reads almost like a fairy tale, rejected by three publishers in 1921,
finally appeared in 1998; it begins with a series of obviously fake
prophetic dreams. <The Quarry>, rejected by two firms in 1928 and
1930, waited until 1999; its surface, set from the beginning of the
20th century to its present (or possibly later), is more realistic,
its story of its hero's education academic and sentimental (mainly in
Ohio, Kentucky, and New York City) much more Chesnutt's kind of thing,
though the hero's bland perfection gets tiresome; the book has no
significant fantastical elements.
Meanwhile, in 1924 he'd already published one last Julius McAdoo
story - in which, for the first time, the narrator confirms the
central fantasy element. In 1930 came his last published short story,
another fantasy. His last rejected book *also* dates to 1930, a
collection of stories about animals he'd told his grandson - but this
time, in contrast to his animal stories of the 1870s, *talking*
animals, fantasy again. (As with <Aunt Hagar's Children>, no
manuscript is known to survive.) He died in 1932.

The Julius McAdoo stories are consistently his most-praised fictions,
their only serious competitor "Baxter's <Procrustes>". This is
partly because his novels are *not* uniformly praised. [1] Beyond
that, much of his short fiction, especially that from early in his
career, intended for specific markets, bears those markets' marks.
He wrote plenty of comic fiction, and plenty of sentimental fiction,
and like his contemporaries didn't mind coincidences and melodrama.
Julius McAdoo's subject cut comedy, sentiment and melodrama down to
their proper places, and localised things enough for coincidences to
make sense. In essence, Julius McAdoo gave Chesnutt an escape from
his time's norms; by staying true to this character, he was able to
write timeless fiction.
An important difficulty for modern readers with the McAdoo stories
and some of Chesnutt's other more or less fantastical works is his
use of "dialect". One of the predecessors he was responding to was
Joel Chandler Harris's "Uncle Remus" stories; like Uncle Remus, Uncle
Julius can be hard to follow, as can other uneducated characters,
especially black ones, in Chesnutt's fiction in general.
There are arguably three other series in his fiction. 1) His
first two stories foreshadowing the "conjure" model - stories
revolving around a "dialect" storyteller's stories - appeared seven
weeks apart in the same publication; he made a point of connecting
the otherwise unrelated "Tom's Warm Welcome", 1886, and "McDugald's
Mule", 1887, partly by giving the storyteller in each the same name.
2) By 1897 he started to use the name "Patesville" for Fayetteville;
however, only the Julius McAdoo stories among the "Patesville" set
share characters. 3) By 1898 he started to use "Groveland" as a name
for Cleveland; a minor character present in three stories (all in
<The Wife of His Youth>) is the only fictional continuity resulting
from this, however. <A Business Career> is set mainly in "Groveland",
<The House Behind the Cedars> largely in "Patesville", but neither
shares characters with any of his other stories; decades later, some
of <The Quarry> is explicitly set not in "Groveland" but in
"Cleveland". Even the "conjure" stories have little continuing plot,
and at least seem to have chronological difficulties with each other;
yet another way he was unlike most speculative fiction writers is
that at bottom, he really didn't do series.

[1] Of the novels I've read, probably the most entertaining, by my
lights, is <The Marrow of Tradition>, followed by <A Business Career>,
then <The Quarry> and <Mandy Oxendine>; <The House Behind the Cedars>,
<The Colonel's Dream>, and <Paul Marchand, F.M.C.> are back a ways,
and <Evelyn's Husband> off by itself in last place. For substance,
the first four, <House> and <Colonel's> might reasonably be re-ranked
one way or another. I think the only Chesnutt novels I'd read for
style are those published in his lifetime.
Although the previously unpublished ones get *much* less love, I'm
pretty sure you could find at least one critic who'd put each of them
on top; this is certainly true for the three published 1900-1905.

I've read for this project everything I could, except for his few
poems. This is eight novels (not <The Rainbow-Chasers>), seventy-
four stories (everything in <The Short Fiction>, cited a lot below -
fifty-five stories, twelve of which didn't appear in Chesnutt's
lifetime - and the two collections published in his lifetime -
sixteen stories - and three available to me only online, all
published in his lifetime, URLs below), and no plays. The stories
known to me that I ignored are "A Doubtful Success" and "The Train
Boy", both published 1888 and never reprinted; "The Fabric of a
Vision" (?), sold 1897 but possibly not published and not known to
survive; "John Pettifer's Ghost" (!), "An Expensive Amusement", "The
Hand of God" (?), and an untitled "love story of Mr. Peyton and Miss
Wrenn", all of which are known to survive in manuscript, but haven't
been published. I mentioned one of the three online-only stories
above, and mention another below:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/frisksrat.html>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/twowives.html>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/restriction.html>

I deliberately cast a wide net. I include all Julius McAdoo stories
below, even the three I don't see as fantasy; I include stories
arguably even less fantasticated; my comments on each story deal with
the extent of fantastication. One story I list, unpublished in
Chesnutt's lifetime, is certainly still in copyright in the US, and
two others originally appeared late enough that they might be. The
former and one of the latter are the only ones I list *not* available
free, from evidently legitimate sources, online. (Stories in the two
collections published in 1899 are at the usual places; nearly all the
stories I list that *weren't* in those collections are at the
academic Chesnutt site already cited.)
In case it's relevant, I indicate with an asterisk where I read
each story listed.
Six of the stories I list have been printed in more than one text,
or "version". 123) The first three appeared 1887-1889 and then,
revised, in <The Conjure Woman> in 1899. Each has an entry in both
relevant years. 4) Another <Conjure> story came out a month before
the book as a sort of ad; one scholar said there was no difference
between book and magazine versions, and I didn't check further. 5) I
deal with at least three versions of a story rejected in 1897 under
one entry in that year. 6) I give two versions of a story published
in 1901 separate entries, both in that year.

<The Conjure Woman> includes a third of the stories I list; it's
silly to list its reprintings and the books that include it in full
seven times, so here goes:
<The Conjure Woman> by Chesnutt (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
February 1899)
Other editions of this book (authority):
London: Gay & Bird, 1899 (bibliography and Worldcat);
Cleveland: Rowfant Club, 1899 (biographies);
Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1899 (Worldcat; I'm dubious);
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929 (bibliography and biographies;
other sources, including Worldcat, date this printing to
1927; Worldcat also lists later reprints by this publisher,
some but not all of which probably happened);
Ridgewood, NJ: Gregg Press, 1968 (bibliography and Worldcat);
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969 (bibliography
and Worldcat, which lists many printings);
St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press, 1977 (bibliography,
which cuts off in 1980, and Worldcat);
Tokyo: Hon-no-Tomosha, 1997 (Worldcat);
and a bunch of reprintings in this century what with the rise
of the vampire publishers.
Worldcat also knows of German and Japanese translations, at
least.
This book is available online at least from Project Gutenberg,
Google Books, and the Internet Archive. (These sites all have
Chesnutt's six books published in his lifetime but nothing else,
*except*: The Internet Archive also allows registered users to
"borrow" <Mandy Oxendine>, <Paul Marchand, F.M.C.>, and <The
Quarry>.)
Larger collections that include <The Conjure Woman> in full (not
listed *for those seven stories* below, with one exception as
indicated):
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by William L. Andrews (New
York: Mentor, 1992); this book reprinted as * <Conjure Tales
and Stories of the Color Line> (New York: Penguin Books, 2000;
"Penguin Classics"; for other reprints with different contents
see relevant stories below)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt, edited
by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,
1993)
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002)
<The Conjure Woman> by Chesnutt, edited apparently anonymously
(Memphis: General Books, 2010)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto and
Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A Norton
Critical Edition")
Joe Bernstein
2018-01-30 18:54:26 UTC
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1887

"The Goophered Grapevine" (4973 words)
<The Atlantic Monthly>, August 1887
Chesnutt's "first success", the first Julius McAdoo story, and
really the type story for the set. It remains his most reprinted
story, though I personally think a couple of the next stories are
stronger. It does feature the most complex fantasy invention of his
I've read. Considering the purchase of the old McAdoo plantation,
the narrator meets Julius McAdoo, who tells him of the curse on the
grapes (vividly depicting in detail how the titular conjure woman
worked), and the at first strange, but eventually horrible, fate
visited on one man who unknowingly violated the curse. For all this
the storyteller represents himself as more or less an eyewitness.
The narrator decides McAdoo just wanted the grapes to himself.
This magazine version is significantly shorter than that in
<The Conjure Woman>. I lack access to many of the reprintings, so
have simply assumed (as I think pretty likely) that they all feature
the book version, and list them all below in the separate entry for
that version. If for some reason you can't reach Cornell
University's public access archive of the 19th-century <Atlantic>,
URL below, you can also find it at <The Charles Chesnutt Digital
Archive>, my source for most of the e-texts whose word counts (done
automatically by Notepad++) I give.
In all authoritative publications known to me - <Atlantic>,
book, archive, you name it - it's "The Goophered Grapevine", although
the cursed grapevines are in fact plural. I know of no reprinting
that corrects that, but one does see fit to correct the adjective:
"Goopher'd". Go figur'.
<http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/a/atla/index.html>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/grapevine.html>

"A Secret Ally" (1282 words)
Syndicated by the Associated Literary Press (S. S. McClure),
September 19, 1887
A man facing an important decision gets an unusual visitor.
This mildly sentimental story is only fantastical in the sense that
it reports literally on this visitor, rather than explicitly making
him a figment of the man's imagination; but in that limited sense,
it's Chesnutt's first *actual* fantasy, since there's nothing
intrinsically fantastical about Julius McAdoo telling a story.
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/secret.html>

"A Midnight Adventure" (1476 words)
<New Haven Register>, December 6, 1887
A drunk man in a park has an experience terrifying enough to
sober him up - at which point a cop wakes him from sleeping on the
park bench. Chesnutt takes the trouble to plant a seed of doubt as
to this "It was only a dream" ending (contrast "Two Wives", URL above,
in which he didn't take such trouble - not that it would've made that
story fantastical anyway). Features Chesnutt writing about racial
issues neither black nor white. [2] Worth reading.
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/midnight.html>

[2] His account of the substantial ante-bellum free black population
of North Carolina included significant American Indian ancestry, and
he considered himself a descendant of that population, so he still
wasn't going all that far from home.

1888

"Po' Sandy" (4783 words, but see below)
<The Atlantic Monthly>, May 1888
This is the first really bleak Julius McAdoo story. The
conjurer this time isn't the one from "The Goophered Grapevine", but
the titular man's wife (and fellow slave). The underlying issue
driving the plot is slaves' inability to control their own movements:
the man, given his choice of transformations, explicitly chooses to
become a tree so as to stay put; alas, unfreedom of place still leads
to dire consequences. The storyteller doesn't explain how he knows
the story. This is one of the two stories I mentioned above as
stronger, in my view, than "The Goophered Grapevine".
Again, this is the magazine version. Of the three stories
carried forward to <The Conjure Woman>, this is said to be the least
changed; I didn't try to compare it word for word (I currently have
no access to diff), but the two versions do have the same succession
of paragraphs.
In <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/sandy.html>
but this copy has two substantial lacunae - total 278 words as I hand-
typed them (included in the figure above) - from page ends to
paragraph ends, so I strongly recommend consulting the copy at
Cornell instead, if you specifically want to read this version.

1889

"The Conjurer's Revenge" (4993 words)
<Overland Monthly>, June 1889
Chesnutt's third Julius McAdoo fantasy story features his third
conjurer, free like the one in "The Goophered Grapevine", but male
unlike both previous ones. Among the conjure tales, stories like
this that feature conflict among black people, rather than conflict
between the races, can be lighter than others, and this one maybe is.
Julius McAdoo doesn't claim to have seen the transformation himself
this time, only heard about it (for forty years), but the victim is
shown from the outset as still living. There's a wonderful passage
midway through depicting fascination.
The magazine version was revised significantly for the book;
one last time, I assume, but can't prove, that all reprintings use
the book version, which I think is significantly better.
In <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/conjurer.html>

"A Roman Antique" (551 words)
<Puck>, July 17, 1889
<Puck> seems to have been intended as an American <Punch>; of
the several very short stories Chesnutt sold to it, this is the only
one I list. A man in New York's Central Park encounters an old man
(speaking "dialect") who claims to have saved Julius Caesar's life.
As usual, there's nothing fantastical in the frame story.
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/antique.html>

"Dave's Neckliss" (5880 words)
<The Atlantic Monthly>, October 1889
This is the first Julius McAdoo story I read as having nothing
to do with fantasy, but your mileage may vary; there certainly isn't
a conjurer, anyhow. A struggle over a woman leads another strong
young man to madness; the extent of that madness is the only element
one *could* interpret as fantastical. Regardless, it's certainly a
horror story. I just said some of Chesnutt's intra-race conflict
stories could be lighter than usual? Not this time, though the
particular workings of this story's conflict do rely on slavery. The
storyteller represents himself as an eyewitness and a major character
in the story. There's no obvious way to compare this story to
"Baxter's <Procrustes>", but of the Julius McAdoo stories, this may
be the best.
Reprintings:
<The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by William L. Andrews
(New York: Mentor, 1992); this book reprinted as * <Conjure
Tales and Stories of the Color Line> (New York: Penguin
Books, 2000; "Penguin Classics"); this book abridged as <The
Goophered Grapevine and Other Stories> (n.p.: Dodo Press,
2008)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor> (???) edited by Roy
Blount, Jr (New York: W. W. Norton, 1994)
<The Oxford Book of the American South> edited by Edward L.
Ayers and Bradley C. Mittendorf (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1997)
<American Local Color Writing, 1880-1920> edited by Elizabeth
Ammons and Valerie Rohy (New York: Penguin Books, 1998)
<Southern Local Color> edited by Barbara C. Ewell, Pamela Glenn
Menke and Andrea Humphrey (Athens, GA: University of
Georgia Press, 2002)
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002)
<Tales of Conjure and The Color Line> by Chesnutt, edited by
Joan Sherman (n.p.: Dover Publications, 2012)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
<"The Man Who Thought Himself a Woman" and Other Queer
Nineteenth-Century Short Stories> (?) edited by Christopher
Looby (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/neckliss.html>
Also included in an appendix to the Project Gutenberg version of <The
Conjure Woman>.

1893

"A Deep Sleeper" (4303 words)
<Two Tales>, March 11, 1893
I read this Julius McAdoo story as fantasy, but again, you may
disagree; again it features no conjurer, and Chesnutt didn't try to
include it any more than "Dave's Neckliss" in the fantasy book
Houghton Mifflin wanted. A narcoleptic slave finds a really good
hiding place and sleeps for a month. This is the fantasy element, in
my view; it's explained in-story with 19th-century medicine as
reported by the storyteller (who claims to be an eyewitness), so you
*could* argue that the story's sf, but, well, you shouldn't.
(There's also an unexplained "ha'nt" - haunt, ghost - as part of a
larger unexplained subplot, midway through the story. Maybe Chesnutt
just left it out of his book because it's not well constructed.)
Anyway, the titular's disappearance of course causes all sorts of
trouble; in a way, it's the happy-ending version of "Po' Sandy" -
light, as these stories go, but not free of darkness.
Reprintings:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002)
<The Conjure Woman> by Chesnutt, edited apparently anonymously
(Memphis: General Books, 2010)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/sleeper.html>
Also included in an appendix to the Project Gutenberg version of <The
Conjure Woman>.

1897

"The Dumb Witness" (5317 words)
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
In complete contrast, this is the Julius McAdoo story too
*heavy* for publication during Chesnutt's lifetime. Specifically,
it's one of two stories <The Atlantic Monthly> returned to him in
1897 because they already had what they considered enough of his
stories in the pipeline. (They couldn't, after all, publish a whole
issue of stuff as dark as "Dave's Neckliss" - or this story.) Unlike
later rejected stories, he seems not to have tried to sell this one
elsewhere. Assuming the manuscript from which the above printing
worked dates to 1897, it's the first appearance of "Patesville",
which <The Conjure Woman> would establish as the nearest town to the
old McAdoo plantation two years later.
This is unusual among the Julius McAdoo stories in a number of
ways. Little is actually narrated by him, for starters; it's mostly
told by the narrator instead. (So there's little "dialect". The
narrator proves himself significantly more sensitive, on the subject
of slavery, here than in any of the other stories.) There's no hint
of fantasy anywhere at all. The dark and bleak story, of a love
triangle and decades of revenge, is rather *vague* with things I
suppose Chesnutt didn't feel he could, or wished to, say openly.
Despite the relative difficulty of finding it - it's one of the
two not online - *if* you get into the Julius McAdoo stories, you
should certainly read this weirdest of them. On the other hand, if
you're just scratching the surface of Chesnutt's writing, this is
more missable than, most obviously, "Dave's Neckliss" or "Po' Sandy".
Chesnutt incorporated a substantial reworking of it (everything
from motive, to ending, to cast, all changed) into his 1905 novel
<The Colonel's Dream>. Presumably this represented his belief that
he couldn't sell the story, but by doing it he made such a sale even
less possible. Reading it again after the novel (more precisely,
hand-typing it for the word count), I found myself suspended between
the two versions, seeing all the places where the later one improves
on this one, but also several passages in the opposite case.
That said, there aren't really two versions; there are at least
three, perhaps four. Two manuscripts survive: a complete one, and a
later, but incomplete, one. Render (A), as usual, gives no hint of
her source(s); it might be reasonable to guess she worked entirely
from the complete manuscript, but I don't know. Brodhead (B) worked
from both manuscripts, using the later manuscript where he could, the
earlier otherwise. Sollors and Crow reprinted his version (B). I'm
not sure whether Stepto and Greeson did too (B?), or came up with
their own (C?). I haven't read B, let alone C.
Reprintings (of versions based on the manuscripts, rather than
on <The Colonel's Dream>):
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
<American Gothic: From Salem Witchcraft to H. P. Lovecraft>,
2nd edition, edited by Charles L. Crow (Chichester, West
Sussex / Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013; the first, 1999,
edition doesn't have this story)
Joe Bernstein
2018-01-30 18:59:09 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
1899

"Hot-Foot Hannibal" (5986 words in the Chesnutt Archive, 6020 in
Project Gutenberg - a notionally 34-word increase)
<The Atlantic Monthly>, January 1899
All four of the new stories in <The Conjure Woman> feature the
free conjure woman (hence the title) from "The Goophered Grapevine";
these aren't stories Chesnutt was using to experiment with his
abilities, but ones he was writing to order. The internal story here,
as in "Dave's Neckliss", features a love triangle. But where one man
in that story was all good, one all bad, here all the characters have
some lead in their souls; and we know from the start that it ends in
death, because the frame story features a haunt. That said, the
frame story itself has some movement for a change, Julius McAdoo
working a particular con of which the narrator actually approves,
with a result usually understood as a happy ending [3], and I think
that's why Houghton Mifflin chose this story to advertise the book in
<The Atlantic>, and also to close the book. I saw no point in trying
to compare, or separate, magazine and book versions here. The magic
by which the conjure woman tries to help one of the men is an early
(for America) example of a "voodoo" doll, with zero reference to
anything actually Haitian. The storyteller presents this as
happening decades ago, when he was a boy, on the same plantation as
him.
Reprintings:
<The Conjure Woman> and * related titles by Chesnutt, as above
<Hot-Foot Hannibal and Other Stories> by Chesnutt, edited
apparently anonymously (n.p.: Dodo Press, 2008)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/hannibal.html>

[3] Awkwardly, one of the protagonists of that happy ending has the
same name as one of those in the desperately *un*happy story at the
core of "The Dumb Witness".

"The Goophered Grapevine" (5965 words, a notionally 992-word
increase)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
The book version. The main difference is said to be (and
appears to me, admittedly not in a close comparison, to be) in the
introduction. That's *massively* expanded, made a great deal more
circumstantial (including the first published reference to
"Patesville"), and it has considerable descriptive prose added. It's
all worth reading - "a quaint old town, which I shall call Patesville,
because, for one reason, that is not its name", for example - so
unless you have real reason to do otherwise, you may as well read this
version.
I counted words for the book versions and the stories that
originated in the book from Project Gutenberg's plain text release of
March 2004.
Reprintings, other than * related titles as above:
<Anthology of American Negro Literature> edited by V. F.
Calverton (New York: The Modern Library, 1929)
<Famous American Stories> edited by K.-H. Wirzberger (Berlin:
Seven Seas, 1965)
<Dark Symphony: Negro Literature in America> edited by James A.
Emanuel and Theodore L. Gross (New York: The Free Press,
1968)
<Black Literature in America> edited by Raman K. Singh and
Peter Fellowes (New York: T.Y. Crowell Co., 1970)
<Black Identity> edited by Francis E. Kearns (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1970)
<From the Roots: Short Stories by Black Americans> edited by
Charles L. James (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1971)
<Afro-American Writing> edited by Richard A. Long and Eugenia W.
Collier (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University
Press, 1985)
<The Norton Anthology of American Literature>, 3rd edition,
edited by Nina Baym (New York: Norton, 1989; later editions
apparently continue to include it, or some story by Chesnutt,
down to 2017's 9th, but I don't know whether earlier ones
had it)
<American Negro Short Stories> edited by John Henrik Clarke
(New York: Hill and Wang / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986);
this book revised and expanded as <Black American Short
Stories> (New York: Hill and Wang, 1998)
<Calling the Wind: Twentieth-Century African-American Short
Stories> edited by Clarence Major (New York:
HarperPerennial, 1993)
<Selected African American Writing from 1760 to 1910> edited by
Arthur P. Davis, Jay Saunders and Joyce Ann Joyce (New York:
Bantam Books, 1995)
<The Norton Anthology of African American Literature> edited by
Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Nellie Y. McKay (New York: W. W.
Norton & Co., 1996)
<The Literature of the American South> edited by William L.
Andrews (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998)
<African-American Literature> edited by Demetrice A. Worley and
Jesse Perry (Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Pub. Group, 1998)
<Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the
African Diaspora> edited by Sheree Thomas (New York: Warner
Books, 2000)
<The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Literature>
edited by Rochelle Smith and Sharon L. Jones (Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000)
<Pieces of a Man: The Anthology of Classic Black Writing>
edited apparently anonymously (London: X Press, 2000)
<Great American Short Stories> edited by Paul Negri (Mineola,
NY: Dover Publications, 2002)
<Southern Local Color> edited by Barbara C. Ewell, Pamela Glenn
Menke and Andrea Humphrey (Athens, GA: University of
Georgia Press, 2002)
<The Heath Anthology of American Literature>, fifth edition,
edited by Paul Lauter and Richard Yarborough (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, as above; this book abridged
and expanded as <The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt> (New York:
Penguin Books, 2008; "Penguin Classics"); this book abridged
as <The Goophered Grapevine and Other Stories> (n.p.: Dodo
Press, 2008)
<Tales of Conjure and The Color Line> by Chesnutt, edited by
Joan Sherman (n.p.: Dover Publications, 2012)
<Writing from the Black Soul> edited by Carme Manuel Cuenca
(n.p.: JPM Ediciones, 2014)
<Before Harlem> edited by Ajuan Maria Mance (Knoxville: The
University of Tennessee Press, 2016)

"Po' Sandy" (4817 words, a notionally 34-word increase)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
I'm not sure to what extent Chesnutt made changes here; what
I've seen mentioned is minor corrections. The only check I made
myself, matching paragraphs, I already mentioned. To judge by
comparison to "Hot-Foot Hannibal", there may have been no change in
the story's *length* at all. One change that *didn't* happen was any
place in it for the conjure woman featured in "The Goophered
Grapevine" and the new stories.
Reprintings, other than * related titles as above:
<The American Folklore Reader> edited by John T. Flanagan and
Arthur Palmer Hudson (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1958)
<After Appomattox: The Image of the South in Its Fiction, 1865-
1900> edited by Gene Baro (New York: Corinth Books, 1963)
<Black American Literature> edited by Darwin T. Turner
(Columbus, OH: C.E. Merrill Pub. Co., 1969)
<A Native Sons Reader> edited by Edward Margolies (Philadelphia:
Lippincott, 1970)
<Memory of Kin: Stories about Family by Black Writers> edited
by Mary Helen Washington (New York: Doubleday, 1991)
<American Gothic: An Anthology, 1787-1916> edited by Charles L.
Crow (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999; the second, 2013, edition
doesn't have this story)
<The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Literature>
edited by Rochelle Smith and Sharon L. Jones (Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000)
<The Marrow of Tradition> by Chesnutt, edited apparently
anonymously (New York: Palgrave, 2002; it's included as
context to the novel in a "Bedford Cultural Edition")
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, as above; this book abridged
and expanded as <The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt> (New York:
Penguin Books, 2008; "Penguin Classics"); this book abridged
as <The Goophered Grapevine and Other Stories> (n.p.: Dodo
Press, 2008)
<Tales of Conjure and The Color Line> by Chesnutt, edited by
Joan Sherman (n.p.: Dover Publications, 2012)

"Mar Jeems's Nightmare" (6969 words)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
This is the first new story in the book - as I said, "Hot-Foot
Hannibal" closed it - and it's about the conjure woman's greatest
triumph: turning a harsh master black so he can learn first hand
what he's doing to his slaves. Understandably, Houghton Mifflin
didn't use *this* happy-ending story to advertise the book; I'm
amazed they published it at all. The storyteller represents it as a
story of quite long ago, which his mother taught him.
Reprintings, other than * related titles as above:
<The Literary South> edited by Louis D. Rubin, Jr (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1986)
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, as above; this book abridged
and expanded as <The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt> (New York:
Penguin Books, 2008; "Penguin Classics")

"The Conjurer's Revenge" (5192 words, a notionally 199-word
increase)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
Both versions of this begin with a portrait of the
possibilities for leisure, in a rural setting a century ago, to turn
into deadly boredom [4], by listing what was available to the
narrator and his wife to while away a Sunday afternoon. The magazine
version has her focus on religion; the book version, at greater
length, has them both take up music and books as well as the
newspapers and magazines originally listed for the husband. In
keeping with this change, the book version *drops* an awkward scene
in which the wife gives Julius McAdoo a hymnal. Nevertheless, this
version is longer, thanks partly to lots of little expansions making
things clearer or making dialogue more characteristic; there's also
an amusing new scene in which our transformed man, as a mule, makes
trouble. Finally, the story is more plausibly redated from forty to
twenty-five years back.
The reason to prefer the book version of "The Goophered
Grapevine" is that you get more of the good writing. The reason to
prefer the book version of "The Conjurer's Revenge" is that you get
substantially *better* writing.
Reprintings, other than * related titles as above:
<The Local Colorists: American Short Stories, 1857-1900>
edited by Claude M. Simpson (New York: Harper & Brothers,
1960)
<The Mirth of a Nation: America's Great Dialect Humor> (?)
edited by Walter Blair and Raven Ioor McDavid (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1983)
Worldcat also knows of a Korean translation.

[4] In general, I hate boredom more than most experiences, but I find
this an *especially* convincing theme during this interval between
laptops. I pretty much live in a university library, so weekdays I
can always find something to do, but Friday evenings, Saturdays, and
Sunday mornings (to say nothing of breaks) require a lot of planning
to avoid extremes of ennui.

"Sis Becky's Pickaninny" (5134 words)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
So I understand why Houghton Mifflin preferred "Hot-Foot
Hannibal" to "Mars Jeems's Nightmare", let alone the next story.
What I don't get is why they didn't ballyhoo *this* story of a woman
sold away from her child and all the magic that goes into reuniting
them. None of the new four has been popular with anthologists, but
this has done best; and it's such a cheerful story, with birds all
over the place and the happiest ending Julius McAdoo ever came up
with. If you're hesitating over the whole idea of conjure stories,
but still reading this anyhow, *read this story*.
The storyteller gives no indication of date or sources; but
"Lonesome Ben", listed below, makes an owner in this one a latecomer.
Reprintings, other than * related titles as above:
<Stories of the South> edited by Addison Hibbard (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press / New York: W. W. Norton
& Co.; 1931)
<American Local-Color Stories> edited by Harry R. Warfel and
George Harrison Orians (New York / Cincinnati: American
Book Company, 1941)
<Raising Small Church Esteem> (?) apparently edited by Steven E.
Burt and Hazel Ann Roper (Washington: Alban Institute, 1992)
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, as above; this book abridged
and expanded as <The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt> (New York:
Penguin Books, 2008; "Penguin Classics")

"The Gray Wolf's Ha'nt" (6050 words)
<The Conjure Woman>, February 1899
This would appear to be the furthest past of the stories; in it,
the conjure woman the new stories share with "The Goophered Grapevine"
is new in the area, the main conjurer an older man. (The storyteller
says nothing about where he got the story, or when it happened.) Its
plot starts from a love triangle, but that's only prelude to another
conjurer's-revenge story, with a particularly and ingeniously ghastly
ending. If "Dave's Neckliss" is non-supernatural horror, this is
horror at the magical extreme.
Reprinting, other than * related titles as above:
<From the Roots: Short Stories by Black Americans> edited by
Charles L. James (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1971)

"Cicely's Dream" (7347 words, from Project Gutenberg's February
2004 release of the parent book)
<The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line>,
December 1899
Whew, what a transition. The *plot* here is a sort of love
triangle, but this story isn't about its plot. It's about its
narrative - this is a story told rather than shown, really, and told
in a meditative voice well worth reading. (Much of the dialogue is
in "dialect", but there isn't all that much dialogue.) What makes it
fantasy is that this voice goes into detail about dreams as prophecy
- and the tautological system by which they either foretell the truth,
or "go by contraries" - both at the story's start, at its middle, and
again at its end. As noted above, Chesnutt used fake dream
prophecies a couple of times in his novels, but here he professes
really to believe in them.
Reprintings of the collection:
Ridgewood, NJ: Gregg Press, 1967
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967
Tokyo: Hon-no-Tomosha, 1997
and the usual 21st-century cruft. Also, as a book published
in Chesnutt's lifetime, available from Project Gutenberg, Google
Books and the Internet Archive. Worldcat records significantly fewer
claims of Houghton Mifflin reprints than it does for <The Conjure
Woman>. That said, this isn't a bad book. Since more than half the
stories were written specifically for it, they don't hew nearly as
closely to comic, sentimental or melodramatic stereotypes as do most
of Chesnutt's stories originally written for periodicals (and,
admittedly, mostly written about a decade earlier). I specifically
recommend "Her Virginia Mammy", "The Passing of Grandison", and
"Uncle Wellington's Wives"; and "The Web of Circumstance", though too
bleak precisely to recommend, shows that some current headlines go
way, way back.
Other reprintings of this story:
<Short Stories from the Old North State> edited by Richard
Walser (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1959)
<Women and Men Together> edited by Dawson Gaillard and John
Mosier (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978)
<Collected Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by William L. Andrews
(New York: Mentor, 1992; includes all of <The Wife of His
Youth); this book reprinted as * <Conjure Tales and Stories
of the Color Line> (New York: Penguin Books, 2000; "Penguin
Classics")
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002; includes all
of <The Wife of His Youth>)
<The American Civil War> edited by Ian Frederick Finseth (New
York: Routledge, 2006)

1900

"Lonesome Ben" (5060 words)
<Southern Workman>, March 1900
Chesnutt published more stories in 1899 and 1900 than he had
for years (or ever would again), but it's a bit deceptive. He'd sent
twenty stories to Houghton Mifflin in 1897, pushing them for a book,
and plenty of the "new" ones in '99 and '00 were among those,
including this one. He'd also written six new "conjure" stories for
<The Conjure Woman>; in 1900 he sold the two left out of the book.
I didn't read this Julius McAdoo story as fantastical first
time 'round; Chesnutt didn't offer it for <The Conjure Woman>, and
there's no conjurer. The storyteller says nothing of date or sources;
but this should be earlier set than "Sis' Becky's Pickaninny".
Narrator, wife, and storyteller visit a clay bank which people eat
from. The story claims eating this clay turns one yellow; in an
extreme case, nobody would recognise you. The titular runs away but
gets lost, finds himself nearly back home, and lives on that clay,
with unpleasant results that speak to the "color line". What I
missed on first reading is that right at the end, those results
become clearly fantastical after all.
Reprintings:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<Stories, Novels, and Essays> by Chesnutt, [edited by Werner
Sollors] (New York: Library of America, 2002)
<The Conjure Woman> by Chesnutt, edited apparently anonymously
(Memphis: General Books, 2010)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/lonesomeben.html>
Also included in an appendix to the Project Gutenberg version of <The
Conjure Woman>.

"Aunt Mimy's Son" (3306 words)
<Youth's Companion>, March 1, 1900
This isn't really a Julius McAdoo story at all; just enough
detail establishes this story's *narrator* as the same as in the
"conjure" stories. In fact, this flatly contradicts one of those
latter; "A Deep Sleeper" says Julius McAdoo's daughter was the
narrator's cook, but this story is about someone else entirely, who's
had that job ever since the narrator came south.
That said, this story of a woman's vicariously living through
her son's letters, until he comes home, is a superb example of what I
said above about these stories putting melodrama in its proper place;
this story is a reminder of why melodrama exists at all, what it's
properly *for*. There's nothing remotely fantastical about it (this
is the last of the three McAdoo stories I consider not fantasy),
though it does point to the uses of the imagination - or, more
plainly, falsehood - in social life; the McAdoo link is the only
reason I list it; but I recommend it all the same.
The story mentions "Cleveland", not "Groveland".
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/auntmimy.html>

"A Victim of Heredity; or, Why the Darkey Loves Chicken" (4859
words)
<Self-Culture Magazine>, July 1900
This is the first-published of the two stories Houghton Mifflin
had dropped, among the six Chesnutt wrote for <The Conjure Woman>.
It's a strange story. It stars the same conjure woman as the others,
but seems to be set quite far back. I know this because all the
blacks in North Carolina are supposedly now descended from the
faceless mass of five hundred slaves featured in the story; hence the
title. The narrator catches a man stealing one of his chickens. He
works himself into high dudgeon that gradually comes down - in this
version (see below) from a wished-for sentence of five years in the
state pen to six months in the local jail - before the internal story
starts. The conjure woman, rescued from drowning by a wronged orphan,
concocts an elaborate plot to get this orphan the money he should
have, and also relieve the lot of that faceless mass, the wronger's
slaves. I see Chesnutt's point (although he phrases it in ways that
needlessly complicate its application in his present), but he ends up
with a weirdly white "conjure" tale to make that point, and I don't
blame Houghton Mifflin for turning it down.
Reprintings:
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/victim.html>

"A Victim of Heredity" (5014 words)
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
A review I cite below mentions that Render printed a manuscript
version of this story rather than the previously published version.
(The reviewer doesn't say whether there are other such cases.) So
yes, I hand-typed and compared. The edit did three things: 1) It
tightened the story. 2) It got rid of some of Chesnutt's more
interesting, but conceivably unclear, phrasings. (I've experienced
this kind of editing myself; it's maddening.) 3) It toned down some
of his politics, though not all of it. In particular to that last,
the introduction to this version is considerably more assertive, and
in this version the narrator talks himself down to *three* months
specifically by arguing that deterrence isn't a just basis for
punishment. Given that this is *already* a story kind of broken by
Chesnutt's determination to make a point, frankly, I couldn't blame
Render for letting him make it as clearly as he can, except that she
seems to have done so from ignorance of the story's magazine
publication (see her "Prefatory Note", p. [1]).

"Tobe's Tribulations" (4883 words)
<Southern Workman>, November 1900
This, of course, is the other Julius McAdoo story Houghton
Mifflin rejected for <The Conjure Woman>. This time I'm not so sure
why. The titular is a slave who wants to get free without having to
work too hard or miss any meals. The conjure woman turns him into
animal after animal, and in a sort of multiplication of "Lonesome Ben"
that gives us fun with imagination, he blows it every time; we know
from the beginning of the story that he ends up as the loudest
bullfrog in the swamp, right next door. It's set decades ago, on the
plantation the narrator owns but without any claim to eyewitness
testimony. The ending is, of course, a terrible irony, with no frame
story discussion to soften it, and maybe that's why the story didn't
make the book.
Reprintings:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
<Before Harlem> edited by Ajuan Maria Mance (Knoxville: The
University of Tennessee Press, 2016)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/tobes.html>
Joe Bernstein
2018-01-30 19:02:35 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
1906

"The Prophet Peter" (6442 words)
<Hathaway-Brown Magazine>, April 1, 1906
You've read this before. It's the cynical story of two
hucksters who go into the religion racket, and make money hand over
fist predicting the end of the world. Thing is, the guy they prop up
as a prophet actually *is* one, and can heal too. Chesnutt gives no
hint as to why God would do this to him, and I suspect didn't stop to
think about it. So I take his decision to insert a real prophet into
his stereotypical tale not as a sign of deep religious thought, but
as evidence that his attitude toward fantasy was changing.
Well, actually you haven't quite read this before. The ending
isn't the ending of that stereotypical story at all; this is still
the 1900s, not the 1930s. And I suspect that ending, and again not
religion, is why Chesnutt put a real prophet into this story.
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/prophet.html>

1919

?

1924

"The Marked Tree" (6282 words)
<Crisis>, December 1924-January 1925
The last Julius McAdoo story is a much better ending for them
than "The Dumb Witness" would have been. The internal story is
straight from Greek tragedy: two boys born the same day, one master,
one slave, and the punishment the masters incur for throwing the
slave into death's way. It's explicitly dated to the Mexican War and
after; no conjurer identified as such appears; the storyteller claims
to have spoken with the central character, but offers no other proofs.
However, this time, the curse strikes again in the present day, and
the narrator at story's end confirms its reality. Don't read this
first; but of whatever you choose to read of this series, do read it
last, the position it belongs in and fulfills so well.
Reprintings:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)
<The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales> by Chesnutt,
edited by Richard H. Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 1993)
<The _Crisis_ Reader> edited by Sondra Kathryn Wilson (New York:
Modern Library, 1999)
<The Conjure Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Robert B. Stepto
and Jennifer Rae Greeson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012; "A
Norton Critical Edition")
Also in <The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive> at:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/markedtree.html>

1930

"Concerning Father" (4092 words)
<Crisis>, May 1930
Chesnutt's last published story (probably not the last he wrote,
though - he submitted the children's book in November 1930) is
strangely stodgy. A family of father, mother, and four children,
plus the eldest's fiancé, are mulling over the evening news in
October 1918. Father, who usually dominates this family's
conversations, leans forward to predict that the war will end - and
then freezes, not thermally but in the sense that he becomes almost
immobile, with minimal pulse and respiration, and un-rouseable. This
is one of the phenomena that make me call this story fantasy; the
other is, I suppose, a spoiler. We also only find out towards the
end what this story of a white New England family is doing either in
the NAACP's magazine or in Chesnutt's oeuvre. I find it reasonably
entertaining - it's presented as told by the teenaged second daughter,
who's sort of a stodgy hoot - but the world won't end if you can't
find a copy to read.
Reprinting:
* <The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons
Render (Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)

?



Everything from here is more or less bibliographic; if you aren't
interested, you won't miss anything by stopping here.

Non-fiction works I used significantly in writing this post, besides
introductions to the books cited above, though (unlike some of the
introductions) I didn't read any of these in full:

<Charles Waddell Chesnutt: Pioneer of the Color Line> by Helen M.
Chesnutt (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, c
1952). The author was Charles Chesnutt's daughter; in the
acknowledgments up front she describes her purpose by first
describing a set of physical remains - clippings, correspondence,
journals, etc. - and then saying "This record of my father's life
ought to be preserved". So this is as much a collection of quotes
from that record as a biography, but is still more useful for actual
dates than the other biography I looked at. The other biography says
this one isn't always reliable in those quotes, though.

<A List of Manuscripts, Published Works and Related Items in the
Charles Waddell Chesnutt Collection of the Erastus Milo Cravath
Memorial Library> ["prepared" by Mildred Freeney and Mary T. Henry]
([Nashville]: Fisk University, [1954], but seen as [Ann Arbor:
University Microfilms, 1973]). Although there's another substantial
collection at Case Western Reserve, and although this catalogue isn't
perfect (as scholars' announcements of discoveries have repeatedly
ballyhooed in recent years), this pamphlet nevertheless remains the
foundation of Chesnutt bibliography.
The Case Western Reserve collection (or at least much of it) has
been released on microfilm; the search by which I found it in
Worldcat was '"Western Reserve" Chesnutt', and the work described by
one of the below as its catalogue is at
<http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/675167>. Neither microfilm nor
catalogue seems to be accessible west of the Rocky Mountains.

"Two New Books on Charles W. Chesnutt" by William L. Andrews, pp. 511-
520 of Number 4, Fall 1975, of Volume XXVIII of <The Mississippi
Quarterly>. One of the books reviewed is Render's <The Short Fiction>.
Used to confirm my sense that Chesnutt scholarship to that date still
wasn't up to normal standards, and to begin the list of what I hadn't
read.

<An American Crusade: The Life of Charles Waddell Chesnutt> by
Frances Richardson Keller (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, c
1978). This is that "other biography". Useful for a bunch of things
- Keller did plenty of research - just not dates. My emphasis on his
final years, however, required reading *against* both biographers.

<The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt> by William L. Andrews
(Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, c 1980).
Pp. 279-286 is "A Bibliography of Charles Chesnutt's Published Works",
a useful second opinion on such topics to the 1954 catalogue cited
above. I didn't read much of the rest, because I found Andrews more
interested in pointing out flaws in Chesnutt's works than in
discussing them in general; in particular, although this book was the
first substantial source of information about the then-unpublished
novels, Andrews is a strongly hostile witness to all of them.

<Chesnutt and Realism: A Study of the Novels> by Ryan Simmons
(Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, c 2006). This is the
only other book I found - and I looked at a bunch more than I list
here - that takes seriously the notion that to talk about Chesnutt
the novelist it helps not to ignore two thirds of the evidence.
Beats Andrews by treating the unpublished novels as works to be
discussed, rather than attacked - or, put another way, by seeing
other things worth discussing about them besides why they remained
unpublished. Used specifically for the summary of <The Rainbow
Chasers>.

"An Updated Bibliography of Charles Chesnutt's Syndicated Newspaper
Publications" by John M. Freiermuth, pp. 278-280 of Number 3, Spring
2010, of Volume 42 of <American Literary Realism>. Deals with eight
stories 1885-1888, including Chesnutt's 1885 sale long considered his
first, the story "A Secret Ally" which I list, the story "Two Wives"
which I cite as a comparison, and the story "Cartwright's Mistake",
which this paper, and following it the Digital Archive (on which
Freiermuth has worked), date exactly two years later than everyone
else (1888 vs. 1886). Since that story has nothing to do with
fantasy I chose not to bug the scholars about this question (which
nobody has addressed explicitly), but if you try the sort of
chronological reading I did, you may wish to. [5] This paper refers
to a paper I couldn't consult; that paper was, incidentally, the
first reprinting of "Frisk's First Rat", 1875, mentioned above. I
reached *this* paper through both JSTOR, which the average person I
imagine reading this may not have access to, and Project MUSE, which
may or may not differ in that regard.

[5] If you have access to Render's book, so can seriously tackle a
chronological reading, but lack access to either of the
bibliographies I list, you may wish to use
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/bibliography.html>
or feel free to write me for information.


I read most of the stories in Andrews's <Collected Stories> (as
retitled <Conjure Tales>) and Render's <The Short Fiction>, as
indicated above. Andrews, in the review cited above, had criticised
Render for not providing bibliographic guidance, and for not making
clear what she was printing (as indicated above sv "A Victim of
Heredity"). He then published himself a collection in which
Penguin's expected "A Note on the Text" offers, not information about
the text and editorial principles, but information about Chesnutt's
short fiction output and why his is the best of all possible
collections from it. Sheesh. That said, I did read two editions
that at least *gestured* in the direction of transparency, so
although neither contains any spec-fic, I want to encourage this
tendency by listing them:

<The Northern Stories> by Chesnutt, edited by Charles Duncan (Athens,
OH: Ohio University Press, c 2004). Collects many of Chesnutt's
stories set in the North, apparently on the premise that we learn
something about him as a writer when he's *away* from the Carolina
setting of his most famous books. Because this book's preface
mentions modernising punctuation, it's the most scholarly
presentation of Chesnutt's short fiction to which I had access while
reading, I kid you not. I preferred Andrews's book because I own it
and wanted to be able to record it as fully read, but preferred this
book over Render where they overlap. It includes several stories I
mention above, though not a single fantastical story I actually list
above (not even "A Roman Antique", explicitly set in NYC); I read
"Cartwright's Mistake" in this book, but "The Passing of Grandison",
"Her Virginia Mammy", "Uncle Wellington's Wives", and "Baxter's
<Procrustes>" in Andrews's book.

<The Colonel's Dream> by Chesnutt, edited by R. J. Ellis (Morgantown:
West Virginia University Press, 2014). The editor says Doubleday's
edition "was cleanly and accurately set" so "Few silent edits are
required"; he then lists those edits. He teaches in Birmingham, and
not the one in Alabama; I thought while reading that the routine use
of "colour" and its derivatives was an un-signaled Britishism he'd
added, but no - it's in the original US edition. So this appears to
be an actual scholarly edition. About damn time.

In the Library of America volume, which includes both short story
collections and the first two published novels (plus, inter alia,
"Baxter's <Procrustes>"), Werner Sollors does identify sources for
the texts and claims only to have corrected obvious errors; since one
of the sources is Render, however, this is finitely helpful. I
assume at least one of the "conjure" editions listed above, and not
accessible to me in the library where I worked, is more clearly
scholarly; and maybe, somewhere, there are scholarly editions of <The
House Behind the Cedars> and <The Marrow of Tradition>. (The "Norton
Critical Edition" of the latter claims to be one.)
You'd expect all the formerly unpublished novels' editions to be
scholarly, and most more or less are. Dean McWilliams says what's
necessary re <The Quarry>; Charles Hackenberry re <Mandy Oxendine>
not only does that, but points to his dissertation for much more
detail. The other three are edited by Matthew Wilson; he says
nothing about the text of <Paul Marchand, F.M.C.>, but covers the
basics re <A Business Career> and <Evelyn's Husband>.
Joe Bernstein
2018-02-26 04:27:49 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.

So for other heavily researched posts, I'm planning to change lots of
things, in the feeble hope that it'll make a difference. This seems
unfair to Chesnutt, however; and also unfair to anyone who isn't
reading a bunch of free online fiction solely because they didn't
want to read long posts.

So this post begins a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts. Table of contents (posts, planned for one per day):
-->1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories
(I wrote a seventh post, a book list, but cut it for the sake of
"greatly shrunken". If you want it, e-mail me, and don't expect a
fast reply. It'll get you more Chesnutt, but not more spec-fic.)

Chesnutt lived 1858 to 1932. He probably had more white ancestors
than black, and photos show he could easily have passed for white.
Instead he identified with the black people he was lumped in with
while growing up in North Carolina, married a woman rather darker
than himself, and went on to become the first African-American writer
to build a career in the mainstream white publishing industry.

He apparently started selling fiction in 1885, after settling in Ohio.
While working as a court reporter, he wrote dozens of stories and
several novels. He published two collections in 1899, and two novels
in 1900 and 1901, before poor sales made it clear that he wasn't
achieving either goal he'd set for his writing - getting rich, and/or
showing the realities of black life to white Americans. He went back
to court reporting, but wrote two novels and some stories in the next
few years. After a decade of silence came at least two more novels,
which survive, and at least two books worth of short stories, most of
which don't; I think the latter are likely to have been largely
fantastical, and perhaps actual fantasy, but can't know. His last few
publications were in the magazine published by the NAACP; in his last
years the white publishing industry no longer wanted his work.

Despite his interest in realism, his most successful stories involved
fantastical folk tales. Maybe because he was too commercial a writer,
much of the time. His first published novel fit into an established
micro-genre; many of his stories are deracinated sentimental or comic
squibs. But he wrote over a dozen stories focusing on a formerly
enslaved storyteller, "Uncle" Julius McAdoo, and even though these
too fit an established genre ("Uncle Remus"), somehow in creating
this character he found himself usually compelled to stay true to him,
instead of retreating to generic safety. (He did once fail him at
the other extreme, political point-making.)

The "conjure" stories' framework: A northern white man's wife comes
down sickly, so he buys an old plantation in North Carolina to go
into winemaking. There he finds McAdoo, who used to be enslaved on
that plantation, and who becomes an employee of his. In most of the
stories, McAdoo tells a story, which is the main burden of Chesnutt's
story, but at the end of the latter, the narrator and his wife
respond to the internal story in different ways - the narrator
usually finding some way McAdoo has conned him. Most but not all of
McAdoo's stories are, to us, fantasies, usually involving one or more
"conjure" workers, whose conjurations, in these stories, often
involve physical transformations of people. All are set during
slavery times (unlike the frame stories). McAdoo always speaks in
"dialect", so most of his stories are mostly in that form of English.

Despite his uninterest in fantasy, Chesnutt wrote a few more or less
speculative stories that don't involve Julius McAdoo; flipside, I
can't read three Julius McAdoo (or related) stories as fantastical.
Hence the division into posts.
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
D B Davis
2018-02-26 17:15:09 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal Hurston is
my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics, before the
word was coined, before it became a popular little virtue signal on its
own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using Eubonics
before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter skinned privileged
peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper swarthy person ought to
speak. It probably sounded remarkably similar to the way that a proper
Englishman speaks.

Thank you,

--
Don
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-02-26 17:20:43 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal Hurston is
my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics, before the
word was coined, before it became a popular little virtue signal on its
own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using Eubonics
before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter skinned privileged
peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper swarthy person ought to
speak. It probably sounded remarkably similar to the way that a proper
Englishman speaks.
I think the word you want is Ebonics, rather than Eubonics.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
D B Davis
2018-02-26 17:49:48 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal Hurston is
my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics, before the
word was coined, before it became a popular little virtue signal on its
own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using Eubonics
before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter skinned privileged
peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper swarthy person ought to
speak. It probably sounded remarkably similar to the way that a proper
Englishman speaks.
I think the word you want is Ebonics, rather than Eubonics.
You're absolutely correct. My gul-durn spell checker shows the dad-gum
word in the clear (eg not with a red underline) when Ebonics is
correctly spelled.
It's news to me that my spell checker actually knows how to spell
Ebonics. Neologisms with red underlines tend to get overlooked by me.

Thank you,

--
Don
Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha
2018-02-26 17:24:56 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
On Mon, 26 Feb 2018 17:15:09 -0000 (UTC), D B Davis
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's
been easy for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's
wrong. Recent thread titles suggest several readers of this
group have been acknowledging Black History Month in various
ways; and these are by no means my only recent posts to draw
no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal
Hurston is my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's
technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics,
before the word was coined, before it became a popular little
virtue signal on its own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter
skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using
Eubonics before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter
skinned privileged peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper
swarthy person ought to speak. It probably sounded remarkably
similar to the way that a proper Englishman speaks.
I think the word you want is Ebonics, rather than Eubonics.
You're absolutely correct. My gul-durn spell checker shows the
dad-gum word in the clear (eg not with a red underline) when
Ebonics is correctly spelled.
It's news to me that my spell checker actually knows how to spell
Ebonics. Neologisms with red underlines tend to get overlooked
by me.
I'm a little surpised your spellchecker highlights words that are
capitalized. Many do not, assuming them to be proper names.
--
Terry Austin

Vacation photos from Iceland:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/QaXQkB

"Terry Austin: like the polio vaccine, only with more asshole."
-- David Bilek

Jesus forgives sinners, not criminals.
Robert Carnegie
2018-02-26 21:40:45 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal Hurston is
my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics, before the
word was coined, before it became a popular little virtue signal on its
own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using Eubonics
before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter skinned privileged
peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper swarthy person ought to
speak. It probably sounded remarkably similar to the way that a proper
Englishman speaks.
I think the word you want is Ebonics, rather than Eubonics.
I reflexively like Eubonics, eu- meaning good or happy.

Unfortunately, there's eugenics, euthanasia... good intentions...
Kevrob
2018-02-26 23:15:10 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
OK. Allow me to acknowledge Black History Month. Zora Neal Hurston is
my favorite black writer, by far.
Unfortunately, Hurston isn't a SF writer, so she's technically off
topic in this group. She wrote what we now call Eubonics, before the
word was coined, before it became a popular little virtue signal on its
own right.
Matter of fact, Hurston got into trouble with her lighter skinned
(racists call such people "white") privileged peers for using Eubonics
Ebonics that displays euphony? :)
Post by D B Davis
before the fact. Back in the day Hurston's lighter skinned privileged
peers had a bigoted notion of how a proper swarthy person ought to
speak. It probably sounded remarkably similar to the way that a proper
Englishman speaks.
I suppose they assuredly did!

Kevin R
Gene Wirchenko
2018-02-26 18:25:46 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Mon, 26 Feb 2018 04:27:49 -0000 (UTC), Joe Bernstein
Post by Joe Bernstein
As I've watched this thread continue getting ignored, it's been easy
for me to get on a high horse about it; but it's wrong. Recent
thread titles suggest several readers of this group have been
acknowledging Black History Month in various ways; and these are by
no means my only recent posts to draw no followups.
They were overly long and not especially interesting, so I
skipped them after leaving them unread for days.

[snip]

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Joe Bernstein
2018-02-27 05:12:06 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those [1], there isn't
much new in this one. Table of contents (posts, planned for one per
day):
1. Introduction
-->2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

Charles Chesnutt: Speculation without Julius McAdoo

"A Secret Ally" (1282 words), 1887
A mildly sentimental, mildly fantasticated story. No "dialect".
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/secret.html>

"A Midnight Adventure" (1476 words), 1887
A drunk guy has a scary experience - except that it's only a dream -
except that, in contrast to at least one other "only a dream"
Chesnutt story, here he plants doubt as to that ending. The scary
adventure involves American Indians; Chesnutt usually considered
himself descended from a North Carolina population that he usually
said had Native American blood. No "dialect", but stereotypical
circa-1900 Indian talk.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/midnight.html>

(That other "only a dream" story, whose dream isn't speculative
anyhow, is at
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/twowives.html>
if you care. Neither is all that good, but the fantastical one is
more entertaining.)

"A Roman Antique" (551 words), 1889
A guy in Central Park encounters an old black man who claims to
have fought with Julius Caesar. The old man talks in "dialect", so
you could try this as a test run for the Julius McAdoo stories.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/antique.html>

"Cicely's Dream" (7347 words), 1899
A quiet, meditative story, sort of a love triangle, dominated by its
narrative voice (some of the dialogue is in "dialect", but there
isn't much dialogue, so don't worry). That narrative voice claims to
believe, as Cicely does, in the prophetic powers of dreams. It sets
these out in a tautological way; this is as close as Chesnutt's more
realistic writing got to speculation, though there are *minimal*
speculative elements in several of his novels. Anyway, I think
it's one of the best of his non-"conjure" stories, and well worth
reading. Also among the better stories in the collection it
came from: "Her Virginia Mammy" (ironically sentimental), "The
Passing of Grandison" (funny but ultimately stirring), and "Uncle
Wellington's Wives" (comic). "The Web of Circumstance" strikes me as
relevant to the current Black Lives Matter discussion. (Not
coincidentally, Chesnutt sold none of these to magazines. I'm not
as enthusiastic about *any* of the stories at the Chesnutt Archive
not listed in this thread, all of which *did* sell to magazines.)
The collection:
<https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11057>
<https://books.google.com/books?id=yRotAAAAYAAJ>
<https://archive.org/details/wifeofhisyouthot1899ches>
<https://librivox.org/the-wife-of-his-youth-and-other-stories-of-the-color-line-by-charles-waddell-chesnutt/>
This story:
<https://americanliterature.com/author/charles-w-chesnutt/short-story/cicelys-dream>

"The Prophet Peter" (6442 words), 1906
A hardscrabble, cynical story about end-of-the-world hucksters,
except that the "prophet" they exploit really is one. No
significant black characters, but some "dialect" anyway. This is
very much not my cup of tea, but is very well written. Chesnutt's
last fiction published outside the NAACP magazine in his lifetime.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/prophet.html>

"Concerning Father" (4092 words), 1930
His last published story. I read this quiet depiction of a white
family in New England to whom some weird events happen as unequivocal
fantasy, but it certainly isn't showy about it. Worth reading mainly
for the comical narration of the titular's teenaged daughter. No
"dialect".

This last story, presumably still in copyright in the US, seems to be
available only in its original magazine appearance (<Crisis>, May
1930) and in the print collection in which I also read most of the
rest of these:

<The Short Fiction> by Chesnutt, edited by Sylvia Lyons Render
(Washington: Howard University Press, 1974)

This has none of the stories included in Chesnutt's two printed
collections, so doesn't have "Cicely's Dream" or the others named
in relation to it, and doesn't have any version of any of the stories
listed below as part of <The Conjure Woman>.

[1] And if you actually *did* read the first four posts in this
thread, um, thanks.
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
Joe Bernstein
2018-02-28 05:32:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
new in this one (though a bit more than in the previous post). Table
of contents (posts, planned for one per day):
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
-->3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

Charles Chesnutt: The early conjure tales

"The Goophered Grapevine", magazine version (4973 words), 1887
The "conjure woman" Chesnutt's first collection is named after curses
some grapevines; the story goes into detail about how she does that,
in contrast to most of the conjure tales, which do nothing like. It
focuses, however, on the strong young man who violates the curse out
of ignorance, and his strange doom. This is Chesnutt's most
collected, so most famous, story, but I don't think it's actually
his best, especially in this shorter magazine version.
<http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/a/atla/index.html> - see August 1887
<https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1887/08/the-goophered-grapevine/306656/>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/grapevine.html>

"Po' Sandy", magazine version (4783 words), 1888
A strong young man, this time worn out by being sent to many
plantations, gets help from his wife, also a conjurer. This works
out terribly. This is Chesnutt's first fully horrifying story, and
I think it's the best of the conjure tales, even though it's got one
of their clearest messages - the dire consequences of slaves' lack of
freedom of movement. The magazine and book versions differ little,
mostly in details of how the "dialect" is spelled.
Cornell site May 1888.
The copy in the Chesnutt Archive has at least two long lacunae.

"The Conjurer's Revenge", magazine version (4993 words), 1889
A conjure *man* punishes a thief with a transformation. It's
somewhat lighter than the above two, as some of his stories with
mainly black characters, as opposed to slave - owner interactions,
are. This magazine version is, however, markedly worse than the
book version.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/conjurer.html>

"A Deep Sleeper" (4303 words), 1893
There's no conjurer this time (which means I'm being literally
inaccurate heading the post this way, but I'm not alone in that); I
only read this Julius McAdoo story as speculative because the titular
narcoleptic slave, finding a good hiding place, sleeps for a month,
causing various problems. Can be seen as the happy-ending version of
"Po' Sandy".
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/sleeper.html>
Also included in Project Gutenberg's edition of <The Conjure Woman>.

"Hot-Foot Hannibal", magazine version (6020 words), 1899
This is a love triangle story featuring three decidedly less than
perfect characters, plus, like all the stories written specifically
for <The Conjure Woman>, the same conjurer as in "The Goophered
Grapevine". It ran in <The Atlantic Monthly> the month before the
collection came out, and is the last story in that book. I think it
got both those forms of highlighting because the *frame* story - the
story with white characters - features the most conventional of happy
endings. As with "Po' Sandy", this time for obvious reasons, the
differences from the book version boil down to "dialect" spelling.
Magazine version:
Cornell site January 1899
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/hannibal.html>
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
Joe Bernstein
2018-03-01 04:32:34 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
new in this one (though there is some). Table of contents (posts,
planned for one per day):
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
-->4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

Charles Chesnutt: <The Conjure Woman>, 1899

Stories are listed below in the book's order, including the three
already listed in their magazine versions above. This book online:

<https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11666>
<https://books.google.com/books?id=Mv4QAAAAYAAJ>
<https://archive.org/details/conjurewoman00ches_1>
<https://librivox.org/the-conjure-woman-by-charles-waddell-chesnutt/>

"The Goophered Grapevine", book version (5965 words), 1899
This version's changes are mainly in the much longer introduction.
Since that's well written, I mildly recommend this book version as
against the magazine version - why not get more good writing? This
is the version I'm pretty sure most of the many reprintings use;
since many of those reprintings are textbooks, there's *tons* of
more or less licit discussion online.
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Goophered_Grapevine>
Discussion by Nisi Shawl:
<https://www.tor.com/2017/01/09/expanded-course-in-the-history-of-black-science-fiction-the-goophered-grapevine-by-charles-w-chestnutt/>

"Po' Sandy", book version (4817 words), 1899
When I finally used a diff program online, it claimed that this
differs from the magazine version by one line of dialogue; but that
line is in fact identical in both versions. Otherwise, it only found
changes in the spelling of "dialect".
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Po%27_Sandy>

"Mar Jeems's Nightmare" (6969 words), 1899
All the book's new stories feature the same free black "conjure woman"
as "The Goophered Grapevine", hence the book's title. This story
describes her greatest triumph: she turns a harsh master black for a
week, to learn better. I'm amazed Houghton Mifflin published it.
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Mars_Jeems%27s_Nightmare>

"The Conjurer's Revenge", book version (5192 words), 1899
This is substantially better written, strongly recommended over the
magazine version.
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Conjurer%27s_Revenge_(Chesnutt)>

"Sis Becky's Pickaninny" (5134 words), 1899
The conjure woman works to reverse the sale of a woman away from her
toddler. The magic mostly involves birds, the ending (major spoiler)
is the happiest Julius McAdoo ever came up with, and I don't
understand why this cheerful story didn't get the highlighting the
next but one did.
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Sis%27_Becky%27s_Pickaninny>

"The Gray Wolf's Ha'nt" (6050 words), 1899
This is the earliest-set story, when the "conjure woman" is new in
the neighbourhood, and the main conjurer is a man. It starts with
a love triangle, but focuses on the conjurer's revenge, and is
horror at the magical extreme. (Two posts away, a Julius McAdoo
story of extreme *non*-magical horror, significantly better than this.)
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gray_Wolf%27s_Ha%27nt>

"Hot-Foot Hannibal" (6020 words), 1899
Even the diff program couldn't find any differences here other than
"dialect" spelling.
Book version:
<https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Hot-Foot_Hannibal>
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
Joe Bernstein
2018-03-02 05:06:34 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
at all new in this one. Table of contents (posts, planned for one
per day):
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
-->5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

Charles Chesnutt: Later-published conjure tales

"Lonesome Ben" (5060 words), 1900
Like "A Deep Sleeper", lacks a conjurer, but this one becomes
clearly fantastical at the end. About a runaway slave who finds a
sort of Washington Irving nightmare.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/lonesomeben.html>
Also included in Project Gutenberg's edition of <The Conjure Woman>.

"A Victim of Heredity; or, Why the Darkey Loves Chicken", magazine
version (4859 words), 1900
One of the stories Houghton Mifflin rejected for <The Conjure Woman>.
I don't blame them. Chesnutt has a political point to make, and in
this story, unlike any other, turns slaves into a faceless mass to
do it, so all the actual characters, except the "conjure woman", are
white.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/victim.html>

"Tobe's Tribulations" (4883 words), 1900
The other story Houghton Mifflin rejected, but in this case I think
they made a mistake. A slave wants freedom but is too lazy to work
for it, so he goes to the "conjure woman". This works out badly and
ironically, as the ending points out.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/tobes.html>

"The Marked Tree" (6282 words), 1924-1925
This is the last "conjure" and indeed Julius McAdoo story. It's a
Greek tragedy, in which a slave takes revenge on her master and his
family. The narrator, who's always been suspicious of McAdoo,
finally concludes he's told the truth, that the curse really does
function; so this and "Concerning Father", the last two stories
Chesnutt succeeded in publishing, both read to me as unequivocal
fantasy. I presume it's still in copyright, but it's free online
anyhow:
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/markedtree.html>

"A Victim of Heredity", book version (5014 words), 1974
For some reason Sylvia Lyons Render used the surviving manuscript
instead of the magazine version in her book. It's better, because as
long as you're reading a political point story, it's helpful to be
reading the political point made as clearly as possible, but the
story still isn't good enough to make this a justification for
seeking the book out.
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
Joe Bernstein
2018-03-03 01:52:05 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
This post concludes a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread, but even if you've actually read those, there's
some new in this one, specifically pertaining to the story "The Dumb
Witness", to the extent that you care. Table of contents (posts,
now posted one per day):
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
-->6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

Charles Chesnutt: Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories

"Dave's Neckliss" (5880 words), 1889
This may be Chesnutt's best story, its only serious competitors being
"Po' Sandy" and another non-speculative one, "Baxter's Procrustes",
1904. Although it's told by Julius McAdoo, it's the first with no
conjurer, and I can't read its tale of a strong young man (as in the
two previous conjure tales) brought by a love triangle to madness as
fantastical, but *just maybe* YMMV. I find it deeply horrifying, but
one editor has included it in a humour collection, of all things, so
again, YMMV.
Cornell site October 1889
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/neckliss.html>
Also included in Project Gutenberg's edition of <The Conjure Woman>.

As for "Baxter's Procrustes", which is neither speculative nor McAdoo
but is about a certain kind of book collector:
<http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2010/10/baxter-procrustes.html>
(That's Library of America's website.)

"Aunt Mimy's Son" (3306 words), 1900
This doesn't actually involve or name McAdoo, but its narrator says
enough to make it clear that he's also the McAdoo stories' narrator.
The titular woman lives through her son's successes, until he comes
home. I think it's very close to being what melodrama is *for*, and
strongly recommend it.
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/auntmimy.html>

"The Dumb Witness"
The <Atlantic> returned this story in 1897 on the grounds that they
already had enough of Chesnutt's fiction in the pipeline, and didn't
need this quite dark story of betrayal and revenge. It's had a
complicated textual history. I've seen it said that this story was
meant to end the Julius McAdoo sequence; I think it would've made a
much worse ending than "The Marked Tree" - partly because all
versions have serious plot holes - but if you like Chesnutt's other
darker stories, you should seek it out. It's surely still in
copyright, and not available free online.
(1905)
He reworked it for his 1905 novel <The Colonel's Dream> (if you
don't want to read that very bleak novel in full, for which I don't
blame you, see chapters 14, 15 and 19), but reading that book (whose
fantastical contents are pretty minimal) doesn't fully convey the
original story, which had a different cast, motive for the plot, and
ending. This version is more melodramatic and less sentimental than
the original, I'd say; taken by itself I suppose it's darker, but
that's partly so it can set up a happier ending for one of the
characters, later in the book. Julius McAdoo does not appear in this
version.
Two versions of the original story survived in manuscript. The
earlier version lacks one page; the later version lacks more.
1974 (5317 words)
Sylvia Lyons Render published a version in her <Collected Stories>
without saying how she came up with it, and nobody's seen fit to
figure that out and tell the rest of the world. Based on *minimal*
evidence, my *guess* is that she used the earlier version wherever
she could, the later version to fill the one gap. In this form it's
an extremely dark story without an ounce of fantastication, *except*
that the main early scene works only if you see the whole thing as a
sort of 1890s psychodrama. It's narrated by the actual narrator, not
Julius McAdoo, so there's very little "dialect".
1993 (5382 words)
Richard Brodhead published a version in <The Conjure Woman, and
Other Conjure Tales> based on the later version wherever possible,
the earlier otherwise (in other words, exactly the opposite of what
I'm guessing Render did). This has been reprinted in the Library of
America volume and in Charles Crow's <American Gothic>, 2013 edition.
I think the sentences cut from the earlier version should've stayed,
so I prefer Render's, but either way it's dark and has plot holes.
(Also, Brodhead puts the relevant sentences into footnotes, so
there's even less difference, as long as that's what you're reading;
I haven't checked for these notes in the LoA volume and don't have
access to the other.)
?2012 (? words)
I've been unable to find out whether Robert Stepto and Jennifer
Rae Greeson's Norton "Critical" Edition of <The Conjure Stories>
built its own version of this story, or used Brodhead's or even
Render's.

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
Michael F. Stemper
2018-03-02 17:55:53 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Joe Bernstein
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
new in this one (though there is some). Table of contents (posts,
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
3. The early conjure tales
-->4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories
Charles Chesnutt: <The Conjure Woman>, 1899
This title is similar enough to Leiber's _Conjure Wife_ that I have
to ask if there's any evidence that he was influenced by Chesnutt.
--
Michael F. Stemper
This email is to be read by its intended recipient only. Any other party
reading is required by the EULA to send me $500.00.
Joe Bernstein
2018-03-03 01:23:27 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Michael F. Stemper
Post by Joe Bernstein
Charles Chesnutt: <The Conjure Woman>, 1899
This title is similar enough to Leiber's _Conjure Wife_ that I have
to ask if there's any evidence that he was influenced by Chesnutt.
Y'know, that's a really good question, and I haven't a clue.

I don't remember Leiber ever showing much interest in the relevant
part of the American population, though I've probably only read
about 3% of what Leiber wrote. (The first six Fafhrd/Mouser books,
long ago, the book in question here, less long ago, and some stray
stories.)

On the other hand, he was pretty well read.

On the third hand, hmmm. A 1953 publication date is pretty much at
the low ebb of Chesnutt's reputation. The first books about him are
somewhat later. However, 1943 - that's close enough to a reprinting
(1929 according to everyone familiar with Chesnutt's life, but 1927
according to a whole bunch of libraries at Worldcat) that it's an
open question. After all, it's just a title - in Chesnutt's book we
never hear word one about the conjure woman's possible romantic life.
So Leiber would only have had to see the title in a bookstore and
have it stick in his head.

(Flipside, if he *did* read the book, there's that other 97% that
could've been influenced by it. I don't see anything to link <The
Conjure Woman> with <Conjure Wife> outside those titles.)

Meanwhile, people who study Chesnutt don't really care about
speculative fiction writers, and people who study Leiber aren't
particularly accessible to me.

Sorry I can't be more help.

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
D B Davis
2018-03-02 07:37:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Joe Bernstein
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
new in this one (though a bit more than in the previous post). Table
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
-->3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories
Charles Chesnutt: The early conjure tales
"The Goophered Grapevine", magazine version (4973 words), 1887
The "conjure woman" Chesnutt's first collection is named after curses
some grapevines; the story goes into detail about how she does that,
in contrast to most of the conjure tales, which do nothing like. It
focuses, however, on the strong young man who violates the curse out
of ignorance, and his strange doom. This is Chesnutt's most
collected, so most famous, story, but I don't think it's actually
his best, especially in this shorter magazine version.
<http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/a/atla/index.html> - see August 1887
<https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1887/08/the-goophered-grapevine/306656/>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/grapevine.html>
"Po' Sandy", magazine version (4783 words), 1888
A strong young man, this time worn out by being sent to many
plantations, gets help from his wife, also a conjurer. This works
out terribly. This is Chesnutt's first fully horrifying story, and
I think it's the best of the conjure tales, even though it's got one
of their clearest messages - the dire consequences of slaves' lack of
freedom of movement. The magazine and book versions differ little,
mostly in details of how the "dialect" is spelled.
Cornell site May 1888.
"Po' Sandy" is available at the Chesnutt Archive. [1] It's too much of
an Ebonics slog "as is" for me. YMMV. Each sentence takes far to long to
interpret.
My solution was to copy and paste the story into my editor. Next,
a couple dozen words were replaced to make the read move along faster
for me. For instance, "den" got replaced with "then."
If the school house happens to burn down, will Sandy feel it? Why
does Sandy's lack of movement matter? Even if Sandy were on the other
side of the world, wouldn't events turn out the same?

Note.

1. http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/sandy.html

Thank you,

--
Don
D B Davis
2018-03-02 07:57:01 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
This post continues a greatly shrunken edition of the first four
posts in this thread; if you've actually read those, there isn't much
new in this one (though a bit more than in the previous post). Table
1. Introduction
2. Speculation without Julius McAdoo
-->3. The early conjure tales
4. <The Conjure Woman>
5. Later-published conjure tales
6. Non-speculative Julius McAdoo stories
Charles Chesnutt: The early conjure tales
"The Goophered Grapevine", magazine version (4973 words), 1887
The "conjure woman" Chesnutt's first collection is named after curses
some grapevines; the story goes into detail about how she does that,
in contrast to most of the conjure tales, which do nothing like. It
focuses, however, on the strong young man who violates the curse out
of ignorance, and his strange doom. This is Chesnutt's most
collected, so most famous, story, but I don't think it's actually
his best, especially in this shorter magazine version.
<http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/a/atla/index.html> - see August 1887
<https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1887/08/the-goophered-grapevine/306656/>
<http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/grapevine.html>
"Po' Sandy", magazine version (4783 words), 1888
A strong young man, this time worn out by being sent to many
plantations, gets help from his wife, also a conjurer. This works
out terribly. This is Chesnutt's first fully horrifying story, and
I think it's the best of the conjure tales, even though it's got one
of their clearest messages - the dire consequences of slaves' lack of
freedom of movement. The magazine and book versions differ little,
mostly in details of how the "dialect" is spelled.
Cornell site May 1888.
"Po' Sandy" is available at the Chesnutt Archive. [1] It's too much of
an Ebonics slog "as is" for me. YMMV. Each sentence takes far to long to
interpret.
My solution was to copy and paste the story into my editor. Next,
a couple dozen words were replaced to make the read move along faster
for me. For instance, "den" got replaced with "then."
If the school house happens to burn down, will Sandy feel it? Why
does Sandy's lack of movement matter? Even if Sandy were on the other
side of the world, wouldn't events turn out the same?
Note.
1. http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/Works/Stories/sandy.html
Never mind my questions. A re-read of pertinent parts of the story
clears everything up. Although a lack of simple freedom causes Sandy's
predicament. Movement's sort of a secondary thing. Unless movement is
allegorical in this case.
It's a good story. Except for the Ebonics, it reads like a story
written by one of my favorite authors - Edgar Allan Poe.

Thank you,

--
Don
Joe Bernstein
2018-03-03 01:37:11 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D B Davis
Post by Joe Bernstein
"Po' Sandy", magazine version (4783 words), 1888
A strong young man, this time worn out by being sent to many
plantations, gets help from his wife, also a conjurer. This works
out terribly. This is Chesnutt's first fully horrifying story, and
I think it's the best of the conjure tales, even though it's got one
of their clearest messages - the dire consequences of slaves' lack of
freedom of movement. The magazine and book versions differ little,
mostly in details of how the "dialect" is spelled.
Cornell site May 1888.
"Po' Sandy" is available at the Chesnutt Archive.
Most of the magazine version is. About 5% isn't, because of some
sort of transcription errors. (I caught two lacunae; the diff site
- diffnow.com - implied more, but I'm not sure they were real.)

I was about to apologise for leaving that out of this series of posts,
except that it turns out I didn't leave it out.
Post by D B Davis
It's too much of
an Ebonics slog "as is" for me. YMMV. Each sentence takes far to long to
interpret.
My solution was to copy and paste the story into my editor. Next,
a couple dozen words were replaced to make the read move along faster
for me. For instance, "den" got replaced with "then."
I was reading all Chesnutt's stories (with a few exceptions noted in
the first version, stuff that's never been reprinted and isn't
available online, stuff that's never been printed at all) at one go,
so I did pretty much the same thing in my head. There were a few
words, used less often, that I never did get clear.

Quite a few of his stories don't use any "dialect" at all, or use
only a relatively small amount. (I don't think *any* have a narrator
speaking "dialect".) Problem is, most of his *best* stories *do* use
"dialect". The most important exceptions are "Baxter's Procrustes",
his last sale to the <Atlantic> from 1904, and the novel <A Business
Career>, only recently published so still in copyright. The novels
<The Marrow of Tradition> and <The Colonel's Dream>, published in his
lifetime so available online, are relatively low in it, as are most
of the *relatively* good stories in <The Wife of His Youth>. Of
course, with the limited, relatively high-"dialect", exception of
"Cicely's Dream", none of these are speculative. Sigh.

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>
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