Boston: The Colored Co-Operative Publishing, 1900. First edition. Original pictorial red publisher's cloth binding with slight sunning to spine. Extremities gently bumped and some spotting to the lower corner of the rear board, but in all a square, bright copy better than is usually seen. Previous ownership signature of S. Rangan in pencil to front pastedown. Internally a clean and unmarked copy.
"Pauline Hopkins first and best-known novel, Contending Forces, is a work of activist literature whose goal was to lead both its black and white audiences to understand the wide-spread nineteenth century lynching and raping of black Americans as a form of political terror, and to persuade them that the most effective way of resisting this terrorism was through aggressive, African American agitation. However, because Hopkins understood her black and white audiences to be far apart on racial issues (and depicted them as such in her preface and in the novel), she developed a self-contradictory narrator -- omniscient but unreliable -- whose moral judgements are shaded according to the complexion of the audience Hopkins is trying to reach, whose views sometimes contradict one another, and whose opinions are sometimes refuted by her characters and by her story" (Cassidy). In this sense, Hopkins in her fiction deploys a split-subject position similar to that used by Booker T. Washington in his tracts on black education. It is a method that scholar Houston Baker has called "Hopkins' masked use of masking--her doubly masked double-voicedness." Ultimately, Hopkins enters the popular genre of the sentimental novel to push for social awareness and change, awakening readers of all kinds -- but in particular the women rabidly consuming such works -- to their own ability to resist the current status quo and redefine the spaces African Americans could inhabit. Near Fine (Item #3261)