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												Native Son by  Richard Wright
	 - First edition
			 - 1940
		 - from Whitmore Rare Books (SKU: 2928)

Native Son

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Native Son

by Wright, Richard

  • Used
  • near fine
  • First
Near Fine/Near Fine
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About This Item

New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940. First edition. Near Fine/Near Fine. A Near Fine copy in like dust jacket. Book a trifle cocked, jacket with a small chip missing from the front flap fold and a few small stains on the spine. First issue binding in dark blue cloth, with a date of 1940 on the title page, "First Edition" stated on the copyright page and a publisher's code of "A-P" just below the edition statement. Jacket is first issue priced at $2.50 and without blurbs on the spine.

A difficult and important novel, Native Son draws on literary antecedents like Crime & Punishment to explore race and racism in America. Depicting the murder of a white woman by a black man, Wright's novel exposed important questions about enduring and systemic oppression of African Americans "'The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever,' Irving Howe once wrote, and the remark has been quoted many times. What Howe meant was that after Native Son it was no longer possible to pretend...that the history of racial oppression was a legacy from which we could emerge without suffering an enduring penalty. White Americans had attempted to dehumanize black Americans, and every one carried the scars; it would take more than calling American ‘Land of the Free' and really meaning it to make the country whole...Native Son also stands at the beginning of a period in which novels by black Americans have treated the subject of race with a lack of gentility almost unimaginable before 1940" (New York Times). Unlike Civil War and Reconstruction era works that sought to ingrain the Noble Negro in the cultural imaginary, Wright and his peers forced their fellow citizens to confront the history and continuation of racism in all its ugliness. Adapted to film in 1986, there are recent reports that another film will be appearing in 2019 or 2020. Near Fine in Near Fine dust jacket.


Richard Wright’s Native Son tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black American youth living in utter poverty in Chicago's South Side during the 1930s. When Bigger unintentionally murders a white woman, he is put on trial and eventually convicted, and sentenced to the electric chair. Often recognized as a protest novel, Native Son stresses systemic racial issues, prompting the reader to feel both sympathy and empathy for Bigger. In this, the novel is one of the earliest successful attempts to explain the racial divide in America in terms of the conditions imposed on African-Americans by the dominant white society. Soon after publication, Native Son was selected by the Book of the Month Club as its first book by an African-American author. Indeed, the novel was an immediate best seller, selling 250,000 hardcover copies within three weeks of its publication. As a result of the novel’s success, Wright became the first bestselling and the wealthiest black writer of his time, establishing him as a spokesperson for African-American issues and, to many, the “father of Black American literature.” In 1941, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Wright awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal. Unsurprisingly, Native Son was challenged in many public schools and libraries and is listed in the American Library Association's list of the “Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999.” Yet most institutions in which the novel was challenged successfully fought to keep Wright's work accessible, particularly in the classroom, defending it as a guide into the reality of the complex adult and social world.   Native son is listed as 20th on the Modern Library’s list of the “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century. It is also included in TIME’s “100 Best Novels” (since 1923).

Read More: Identifying first editions of Native Son


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Whitmore Rare Books US (US)
Bookseller’s Inventory #
Native Son
Wright, Richard
Book condition
Used - Near Fine
Jacket condition
Near Fine
Quantity available
First edition
Harper & Brothers Publishers
Place of Publication
New York
Date Published

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Pasadena, California
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Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the... [More]
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in... [More]
Sometimes used as another term for dust jacket, a protective and often decorative wrapper, usually made of paper which wraps... [More]
Copyright page
The page in a book that describes the lineage of that book, typically including the book's author, publisher, date of... [More]
"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers. The cloth is stretched... [More]
Refers to a state where the spine of a book is lightly "twisted" in such a way that the front and rear boards of a book do not... [More]
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf.... [More]
title page
A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the... [More]

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