Boston: The Colored Co-operative Publishing Co., 1900. First edition. Original pictorial red publisher's cloth binding with the slightest slight sunning to spine. Upper front corner gently bumped and some minor spotting to the rear board; rear hinge strengthened. In all a square, bright copy better than is usually seen. Alcuin Library deaccession stamp to front pastedown. Internally else 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 to their own ability to resist the current status quo and redefine the spaces African Americans could inhabit. Near Fine (Item #3418)