Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Rough Classification

In one section of her essay, Anna Julia Cooper classifies writers according to their motivations: "First, those in whom the artistic or poetic instinct is uppermost...who write because they please...For such writers, to be true to themselves and true to Nature is the only canon" (380). Then there are "the preachers...all who have an idea to propagate...They mean to fetter you with their one idea, whatever it is, and make you, if possible, ride their hobby" (381).

Cooper declares the second group unfit for writing about Negro issues because they lack the ability to "put themselves in the darker man's place" (381). Their agenda prevent them from attaining a "substratum of sympathetic knowledge" (381). Cooper cites Mrs. Stowe (Anna Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin") as conversely having "studied with...humility and love" the subject on which she had written, which gives her work strength (381).

These two groups are assumably the only ones writing on these issues at the time because, as Cooper notes, there is a shortage of black artistic creativity, apparently because their energies must be spent elsewhere: "And so the black man's vexations and chafing environment, even since his physical emancipation has given him speech, has goaded him into eloquence and fire of oratory rather than the genial warmth and cheery glow either poetry, or romance" (383). Cooper supports the black population giving their own, firsthand accounts of their culture and histories, without a literary liaison, thus eliminating the need to read the other group's observational writings.

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