THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK, by W.E.B. Du Bois - 1903 [true 1st]


The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches

by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois

Often considered DuBois’ most famous work, in this collection of essays he sets out to show to the reader “the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century,” Du Bois explains the meaning of the emancipation, and its effect, and his views on the role of the leaders of his race in America. 264 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches.

First printing of the First Edition, published by: A.C. McClurg & Co, Chicago, IL. 1903.

Hardback is overall in VERY GOOD+ condition.

  • The nicest copy of this first edition we've ever seen!
  • Black boards feature brilliant gilt on front cover and spine, and head of text block.
  • Blind tooling on front cover is distinct and clear.
  • Minimal rubbing at corners and spine ends, and faint signs of shelf wear along perims.
  • Binding is solid.
  • Spine is barely sunned.
  • Back board exhibits very faint signs of wear or fading, only clearly seen in certain lighting.
  • Inside pages are free of marginalia and intentional marks.
  • Pages are lightly age-toned.
  • Interior exhibits very few signs of age or wear, with very rare and few scattered marks of foxing or other blemish to the pages, and very little edgewear.
  • Gilt at head of text block is still bright with a little dust and some light scuffing.
  • Text block edges on fore and foot edge are the expected perforated, barely-deckled signs of neat and clean initial page cuts.
  • Book may exhibit additional minor signs of age or wear.
  • CR20161006

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois  (1868-1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, and editor. This book was written when  he was the director of special research for the  NAACP.

From the book...

"Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line."  

“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and  Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and  gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this  double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through  the eyes of others, of measuring one by the tape of a world that looks  on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an  American, a Negro... two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.  

The history of the American Negro is the  history of this strife, — this longing to attain self-conscious  manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.”  

“Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor—all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked—who is good? not that men are ignorant—what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.”  

"In this book, [duBois']  introduces and addresses two concepts that describe the quintessential Black experience in America— the concepts of “the veil” and “double-consciousness.” Though DuBois uses these terms separately, their meanings and usage in his works are deeply intertwined. These two concepts gave a name to what so many African-Americans felt but previously could not express due to a lack of words to accurately describe their pain. The implication and connotation of these words were far-reaching because not only did it succinctly describe the plight of being Black and American then, it rings true to the core and essence of what it means to still be Black and American today.

"For DuBois, the veil concept primarily refers to three things. First, the veil suggests to the literal darker skin of Blacks, which is a physical demarcation of difference from whiteness. Secondly, the veil suggests white people’s lack of clarity to see Blacks as “true” Americans. And lastly, the veil refers to Blacks’ lack of clarity to see themselves outside of what white America describes and prescribes for them."  (U of VA)

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Subject: Black Americana
Topic: Essays & Speeches
Original/Facsimile: Original
Binding: Hardcover
Special Attributes: First Printing
Publisher: A.C. McClurg & Co
Place of Publication: Chicago IL
Year Printed: 1903
Author: W.E.B. Du Bois
Region: North America
Language: English
Country/Region of Manufacture: United States
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