Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, 1925-1964.Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes Noun 1. Langston Hughes - United States writer (1902-1967)
James Langston Hughes, Hughes and Carl Van Vechten Carl Van Vechten (June 17, 1880 – December 21, 1964) was an American writer and photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein. , 1925-1964 edited by Emily Bernard Alfred A. Knopf, February 2001, $35.00, ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 0-679-42631-0
Today, Langston Hughes' life and work are celebrated, while the mention of Carl Van Vechten's name draws "blank stares," in the words of Emily Bernard, the editor of this volume of letters between the two men. When the pair met, in the mid-1920s, Hughes was a 22-year-old budding poet coming to Harlem for the first time; Van Vechten was a white, middle-aged novelist, essayist and flamboyant man about town with a genuine interest in black culture.
Sparked by mutual affection, and a common interest in literature and all things black, Hughes and Van Vechten's correspondence spanned four decades. Their relationship survived every development from Van Vechten's generous promotion of Hughes' career to Hughes' loyalty when his friend was reviled for the infamously titled novel Nigger Heaven, and from Hughes' emergence as the brightest star of the Harlem Renaissance to the dwindling dwin·dle
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles
To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease. of Van Vechten's own fame and influence. The letters evoke a mutual, platonic love, one that was tempered by honesty ("I shouldn't wonder if you are pretty nearly through with poetry," Van Vechten writes at one point, criticizing a manuscript of Hughes' verse).
As with any collection of letters, some of the entries in Remember Me to Harlem are more interesting than others. But overall, the book is a gratifying grat·i·fy
tr.v. grat·i·fied, grat·i·fy·ing, grat·i·fies
1. To please or satisfy: His achievement gratified his father. See Synonyms at please.
2. portrait of two people who followed their passions and seemed to have had an extremely good time along the way.
There are also "amusing"(to use Hughes' favorite word) passages about such luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. and Chester Himes, plus photographs of the literati literati
Scholars in China and Japan whose poetry, calligraphy, and paintings were supposed primarily to reveal their cultivation and express their personal feelings rather than demonstrate professional skill. , many of them taken by Van Vechten. An excellent introduction by Bernard, a professor at Smith College, sheds light not only on the friendship between Hughes and Van Vechten, but on the Harlem Renaissance as a whole.
Clifford Thompson, a writer of fiction and essays, is the editor of Current Biography.