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CHARLES CHESNUTT: The Inner Life of Slavery

CHARLES CHESNUTT was a pioneering African-American author whose light skin would have permitted him to 'pass for white.' He emigated from the South in the 1880s, passed the bar in Ohio and worked as a legal stenographer there. His dream was to become a writer of imaginative fiction.. But though he was well educated, his publishers insisted he write stories in slave dialect. Chesnutt wrote a number of novels where blacks speak in normal English, but the stories he told in dialect, collected as The Conjure Woman, found the greatest success with readers. Chesnutt slyly turned these stories into a commentary on the subtle and not so subtle cruelties of white masters and a fascinating narrative on the inner life of slavery. The 54 minute program includes documentary interviews with scholars of African American literature and a dramatization of Chesnutt's tragicomic story "Dave's Neckliss," featuring a performance by legendary actor Ossie Davis, recorded February 21, 2001 in New Rochelle, NY.

 

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This program was funded by the North Carolina Humanities Council and New Jersey Coucnil for the Humanities, both state programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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