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Langston Hughes: Criticism and Reviews

The New York Times features reviews of Langston Hughes's earlier books, audio of Hughes reading his own work, and articles about and by Hughes.

Modern American Poetry features extensive reviews on a number of Langston Hughes's poems.

American Library Association has an article titled "Celebrating Langston Hughes" by Edward T. Sullivan.

Questia bills itself as the world's largest online library and at this address has a number of books online that feature reviews or literary criticism of the works of Langston Hughes.

Additional criticism and review of Langston Hughes's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

"Poetic Interpretations of Urban Black Folk Culture: Langston Hughes and the 'Bebop' Era."
Critics: Walter C. Farrell, Jr. and Patricia A. Johnson.
MELUS, Vol. 8, No. 3, Fall, 1981, pp. 57-72.

"Hughes's poetic commentary on the unrest and anxiety of postwar Black America was presented in a collection published in 1951 entitled Montage of a Dream Deferred. In a prefatory note, Hughes explains that his poems were designed to reflect the mood and tempo of bebop…"

"Simple's Great African-American Joke."
Critic: Steven C. Tracy.
CLA Journal, Vol. XXVII, No. 3. March, 1984, pp. 239-53.

In his essay, "Tracy focuses on the Jesse B. Semple character in the story 'Jazz, Jive and Jam' to portray the cultural situation of blacks in American society."

"Requiem for 'A Dream Deferred.'"
Critic: Richard K. Barksdale.
Langston Hughes: The Poet and His Critics, American Library Association, 1977, pp. 99-131.

"Hughes's Ask Your Mama conforms in many respects to (a certain) concept of jazz poetry. Throughout the twelve sections of the volume there are elaborate notes calling for the reciprocal interplay of music and poetry. The dominant theme…"

"The Short Fiction of Langston Hughes."
Critic: James A. Emanuel.
Freedomways, Vol. 8, No. 2, Spring, 1968, pp. 170-78.

In his essay, "Emanuel gives an overview of Hughes's career as a short story writer."

"The Black Woman as a Freedom Fighter in Langston Hughes's Simple Uncle Sam."
Critic: Rita B. Dandridge.
CLA Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 273-83.

In her essay, "Dandridge explores the portrayal of women as active civil rights freedom fighters in Simple Uncle Sam."

"Religion in the Poetry of Langston Hughes."
Critic: Mary Beth Culp.
Phylon, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 240-45.

In her essay, "Culp asserts that Hughes's poetry emphasizes the diverse role that religion plays in the African-American community."

"Dead Rocks and Sleeping Men: Aurality in the Aesthetic of Langston Hughes."
Critic: Herman Beavers.
The Langston Hughes Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992, pp. 1-5.

In his essay, "Beavers argues that Hughes's role was to amplify the voice of African Americans."

"Symbolizing America in Langston Hughes's 'Father and Son.'
Critic: Dolan Hubbard.
The Langston Hughes Review, Vol. 11, No.1, Spring, 1992, pp. 14-20.

In this essay, "Hubbard discusses Hughes's observations on the mulatto and the culture of race as depicted in the short story "Father and Son.'"

"A Review of The Sweet and Sour Animal Book and Black Misery."
Critic: Veronica Chambers.
New York Times Book Review, February 12, 1995, p. 18.

In her review, "Chambers discusses the appeal of Hughes's simple language and life experiences in three books for children."

"An overview of 'Harlem.'"
Critic: Harry Phillips.
Poetry for Students, Gale, 1997.

In his essay, "Phillips examines how the negative imagery of 'Harlem' and the poem's structure of unanswered questions lead the reader to 'consider the various psychological and emotional circumstances black individuals might experience in a society that continues to struggle with putting into practice its egalitarian ideals.'"

"'The Blues I'm Playing': Overview."
Critic: Keith Clark.
Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994.

"Many critics consider Langston Hughes the father of black modernism, for he 'made it new' by employing unequivocally black literary forms…"

"An overview of 'Mother to Son.'"
Critic: Aidan Wasley.
Poetry for Students, Gale, 1998.

In this essay, "Wasley explores Hughes's dramatic monologue 'Mother to Son,' positioning it within the context of African-American culture and traditions and linking the character of the mother with the voice of African-American history."

"Slave on the Block."
Critic: Sarah Madsen Hardy.
Short Stories for Students, Gale, 1998.

In her essay, Hardy analyzes Hughes's choice to focus on white characters in 'Slave on the Block.'"

"Overview of 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers.'"
Critic: Dean Rader.
Poetry for Students, Vol. 10, The Gale Group, 2001.

"In his poem, 'I, Too,' Langston Hughes both implicitly and explicitly responds to the great poet of freedom and democracy, Walt Whitman. Hughes's opening lines recalls Whitman's 'I Hear America Singing,' 'Still Though the One I Sing' and even Song of Myself. Hughes' poem suggests that he, the Negro, the 'Other,' can also sing of and for America…"

"Critical Essay on Mulatto."
Critic: Carol Dell'Amico.
Drama for Students, Vol. 18, Gale, 2003.

…"Mulatto characters appeared quite often in literary works in the pre-Civil Rights era for a number of reasons. On the one hand, as in Mulatto, the special problems of such persons were a concern. For example, if the mulatto is both white and black, with which ethnicity and culture should he or she identify? Given the strict separation of races at the time…"

"Critical Essay on 'Theme for English B.'"
Critic: Chris Semansky.
Poetry for Students, Vol. 6, Gale, 1999.

"One of the primary features of a lyric poem is that it expresses the thoughts and feelings of its speaker. The assumption of such poems is that by describing what is inside of them, narrators of lyrics are able to articulate…"

"Intracaste Prejudice in Langston Hughes's Mulatto."
Critic: Germain J. Bienvenu.
African American Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, Summer 1992, pp. 341-52. Reprinted in Drama for Students, Vol. 18.

"It is obvious that Langston Hughes's 1935 play Mulatto: A Tragedy of the Deep South concentrates on the unrelenting abuse that Southern blacks suffered at the hands of whites in the first part of the twentieth century…"

"Critical Essay on Mulatto."
Critic: Ryan D. Poquette.
Drama for Students, Vol. 18, Gale, 2003.

"As many critics have noted, Mulatto is an extremely emotional play. The drama builds throughout the work, highlighting the race-driven conflicts that took place between African Americans and whites in the American South in the 1930s, and culminating in…"

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