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Du Bois was the preeminent African American writer, scholar, editor, and activist of the first 50 years of the 20th century. He published scores of essays, which range in style from the lyrical to the polemical and in subject matter from the personal to the historical.
His influence as an essayist, especially inspiring to African American writers, has been immense. Du Bois showed that the essay could be used to do battle in the struggle for justice and equality as well as to explore the self.
He believed that the black writer must always speak publicly and politically as well as personally. Raised in the Congregational Church of New England and educated at Harvard and in Berlin, Du Bois was torn at an early age between the elitism and gentility of his education and the militance and outrage forced on him by white racism.
A white artist might be able to aspire to beauty in and of itself; a black artist could not. For Du Bois, beauty had to serve truth and justice, and to such ends the plasticity of the essay was well suited.
Du Bois was a committed student of the essay, especially the 19th-century English and American essayists. He admired the specific rendering of personality in Hazlitt and Lamb, and the abstract theorizing and magisterial pronouncements of Emerson and Carlyle.
He saw the essay as a form that could accommodate scholarship and objectivity as well as opinion and lyricism. Though he published many of the writers of the emerging Harlem Renaissance, his support of the New Negro movement was qualified.
The break with Washington marked a move by Du Bois toward more and more radical positions.
First exposed to Marxism during graduate work in Berlin —94Du Bois maintained an uneasy relationship with socialist thought for the next several decades. Though he did not join the Communist Party untilhe used the opinion page of the Crisis from the beginning to support socialist causes, and even, after a visit, the young Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In his attempts to get black readers to adopt a sense of racial pride and white readers to take the issue of race seriously, Du Bois employed a variety of stylistic approaches in his essays.
In essays in the Crisis, he turned the style of the gossip column and the celebrity profile to political ends.
Think how quietly the thing would be settled! Du Bois exploited a wide range of what the essay offers. He wrote lyrically and allegorically, used classical allusions and rigorous research, and revealed a most personal and even nostalgic voice at times, but almost invariably his subject was too serious for the whimsy and wit of the light essay of the late Victorian period.
When the subject is a much sadder one—for example, the death of his son—Du Bois knows that the real subject remains racism. Born 23 February in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Married Nina Gomer, died, Vice chair, Council on African Affairs, —54; candidate for U.
Senate for New York, Married Shirley Graham, Emigrated to Ghana,and became citizen, Died in Accra, Ghana, 27 August Essays and Sketches, ; revised edition, Darkwater: Selections from over Half a Century of the Writings, W.
Speeches and Addresses —, edited by Philip Foner, 2 vols. The Thought and Writings of W. Du Bois, edited by Julius Lester, 2 vols. Du Bois Reader, edited by Andrew D. Du Bois Reader, edited by Eric J.
Sundquist, Other writings: Hall, Byerman, Keith E. History, Art, and Self in the Work of W. Du Bois, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, A Mild Suggestion Essay is An Example Guide that Will Show You Step-by-step How to Write A Perfect Resume.
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