Papers

Analysis of Reviews on the Souls of Black Folk)

M. Hall Sociology 101 – 010 Professor Matthew Corshu Due October 11, 2011 Book Review analysis The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois, 1903 I have decided to do my 5 page paper on a sociological perspective of The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois, (1903). I was unable to find book reviews in the library’s Book Review Digest because their volumes did not go back as far as 1903. Based on the racial discrimination that Dr.

Du Bois experienced during his professional career in America, I would venture to guess that Book Review Digest reviews were not listed in the Digest at that time, as most of his work was not acknowledged by white academia back then. I’ve searched online to see what I could find in terms of book reviews and saw that in today’s reviews the general consensus is that Dr. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk essays were highly respected and considered to hold an important place in social science.

In modern reviews, his essays were described as “thoroughly researched, carefully reasoned, and well-integrated introduction and collection of documents…” On the contrary, an anonymous review published in 1903 in The American Monthly Review of Reviews, was less flattering, stating “In his present book, Professor Du Bois emphasizes the need of spiritual and intellectual culture for the negro rather than the more practical and utilitarian ends kept so steadily in view by Mr. [Booker T. ] Washington in his work at Tuskegee.

Professor Du Bois is a man of the highest culture, and he cannot overcome the sensitiveness natural to a man of fine feelings placed in the position that he occupies. There is a natural tendency on his part to interpret the aspirations of his people through his own individual strivings and emotions. The result is truly pathetic;” “…his essays cannot be regarded as of equal value with the widely published lectures and addresses of Mr. Washington. Nevertheless, they well repay reading, representing, as they do, a phase of thought that has, perhaps, been too long neglected by some of those who would deal with the problem as a whole. This review intrigues me as it is clear that the author ascribes to Mr. Washington’s perspective and not Dr. Du Bois’. It makes me want to understand both perspectives. An anonymous review from The Westminister Review (1903) states, “This work offers a rational solution to the colour problem that has so long perplexed the United States. ” I respect this review as it states its observations objectively. There were other reviews from 1903, from which I conclude that The Souls of Black Folk is an important work that speaks to a flawed social system and is worth the read.

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