First Edition of Langston Hughes's Laughing To Keep From Crying; Inscribed by Him

  • Laughing To Keep From Crying.

Laughing To Keep From Crying.

$2,000.00

Item Number: 61051

New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1952.

First edition of Hughes’ second major collection of short stories. Octavo, original cloth. Inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper in the year of publication, “Inscribed especially for Wolfgang, With sincere regard Langston New York March 30, 1952.” Near fine in a near fine dust jacket with light rubbing.

"More than any other American writer, Langston Hughes brought African American culture and traditions into American literature" (Oxford Encyclopedia, 237). Laughing to Keep from Crying, his first collection of short fiction in nearly two decades, highlights the finest aspects of his work: his "simple, direct, style, the thirst for social criticism, the balance between satire and comedy, the basic, easily recognizable plot line, and the ability to create 'everyman' characters" (Ostram, Langston Hughes). Its title, drawn from a blues lyric, especially speaks to how "Hughes was galvanized by the music of his people, whether blues, jazz, or religious… his specific commitment to depicting and strengthening the African American heartbeat in America… gave him a place of central importance in 20th-century African American literature and American literature generally" (Gates and Higginbotham, African American Lives, 420-22). On publication, the stories in Laughing won immediate praise as "highly successful… each is the work of a 'writer' in the finest sense of the word" (New York Times).

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