Study Guide

Langston Hughes Harlem Renaissance

Harlem Renaissance

In 1926, Hughes's professional life took off. Knopf published his first book, a poetry collection entitled The Weary Blues. Along with a few other writers, including Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman, Hughes launched a literary magazine entitled Fire!! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger N****. Among the many literary journals circulating Harlem at the time, Fire!! was an important (albeit short-lived) outlet for emerging black writers' work. He also published a groundbreaking essay called "The N**** Artist and the Racial Mountain." The essay outlined his philosophy on art and what he saw as the quintessential problem facing black artists:

"One of the most promising of the young N**** poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet—not a N**** poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself."blank">Not Without Laughter was published. It followed a young black man named Sandy Rodgers through his itinerant childhood in the Midwest. The book was a critical success, and Hughes received the Harmon Gold Medal for Literature.

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