Lyrics of Lowly Life. Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Lyrics of Lowly Life
Lyrics of Lowly Life
Lyrics of Lowly Life
Lyrics of Lowly Life
Lyrics of Lowly Life
Lyrics of Lowly Life

Lyrics of Lowly Life

New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1896. First Edition, First Printing.

16mo (6 5/8 x 4 1/4 inches; 168 x 110 mm), xx, 208 pages, in publisher's original green cloth, titles in gilt to upper board and spine, top edge gilt. With portrait of the author on the frontispiece and the bookplate of actress Lulu Glaser on the front paste down.

A collection of more than 100 poems by the African-American writer Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), his third book and the first to be issued by a commecial publisher. It brings together many poems from two earlier books that Dunbar privately published, Oak and Ivy (1893) and Majors and Minors (1895). This book contains the bookplate of actress Lulu Glaser on the front paste down as well as her signature and the date 1897 on the front end paper.

Dunbar, the son of former slaves, often wrote poems in Black dialect, and there are many examples here. In fact, Dunbar's fluency and ear for Black speech helped to burnish his reputation as an important writer. But he also wrote in standard English. For instance, the book contains one of his best-known poems, "Ode to Ethiopia," in which he celebrates the accomplishments of African-Americans.

The critic and novelist William Dean Howells has contributed an admiring (although patronizing) introduction: "So far as I could remember, Paul Dunbar was the only man of pure African blood and of American civilization to feel the negro life aesthetically and express it lyrically." Howells had written approvingly of Dunbar's poems in a magazine article, which helped to generate nationwide interest in Dunbar's work and to "transform him from an obscure poet into a nationally known figure." (Jenny Stringer, Ed. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Literature in English. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Dunbar struggled with alcoholism and ill health, dying in 1906 at age 33. Despite his death at such an early age, his standing as an important writer seems assured.

Blockson 5793 (Charles L. Blockson, Ed. Catalogue of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990).

CONDITION: Rubbing and spotting to cloth, darkening to spine, bookplate to front paste down, previous owner's signature to front end paper, offsetting to title page from tissue guard of portrait frontispiece, small tear at top of pages 143-44, a few small stains, and several examples of marginalia in pencil. About Very Good overall. Item #2514

Price: $300.00

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