July/August 99

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A Bibliography from Tillie Olsen

This reading list was first printed in Newsletter #10 (July-August, 1973) of the Radical Caucus in English and the Modern Languages, the publication from which Radical Teacher emerged. (Radical Teacher itself reprinted this essay in its #53 issue.)

The following bibliography derives from a course on "The Literature of Poverty, Oppression, Revolution, and the Struggle for Freedom" that Tillie Olsen taught at Amherst College in fall, 1969. It is not intended as a definitive list of literature on the subject, since it was directed to a particular group of students at a particular historical moment. Certainly many of us, not least Tillie Olsen, would now wish to add to it. Still, it is a very useful basic reading list and one that many teachers will find of interest to themselves as well as to their students. And it also reflects in a creative way a sense of that time. (Given changes in publishing, the availability of new anthologies, and the fact that few readers will be setting out to order these books for their next course, it has not seemed worthwhile to try listing publication information for these texts.)

A. Books and stories read by the entire class:

Agee, James and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Andreyev, Leonid, "Seven Who Were Hanged" in Seven Who Were Hanged

Arnow, Harriette Simpson, The Dollmaker

Babeuf, The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf

Barnstone, Willis, ed. Modern European Poetry

Borowski, Tadeusz, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Brown, Harriet Connor, Grandma Brown, Her Hundred Years, 1827-1927

Cather, Willa, "A Wagner Matinee," in The Troll Garden

Chekhov, Anton, "Gusev," "Sleepyhead," "Peasants," "Rothschild's Fiddle," in various editions; "Ward #6" and "My Life in Ward #6" in Ward Six and Other Short Stories

Davis, Rebeca Harding, "Life in the Iron Mills"

DiDonato, Pietro, Christ in Concrete

Douglass, Frederick, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

DuBois, W.E.B., "Of Work and Wealth," "The Damnation of Women," "The Servant in the House," "Of Beauty and Death" in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil

DuBois, W.E.B., "Credo," "Of the Meaning of Progress," Of the Sorrow Songs," in The Souls of Black Folk

Fast, Howard, The Last Frontier

Gaines, Ernest J., "The Sky is Grey," "Just Like a Tree," in Bloodline

Gladkov, Fyodor, Cement

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, Army Life in a Black Regiment

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, "Nat Turner's Insurrection," in Black Rebellion

Honwana, Luis B ernardo, "Dina" in We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Stories of Mozambique

Hughes, Langston, The Best of Simple

Kroeber, Theodora, Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America

Lawrence, D.H., Sons and Lovers

Lessing, Doris, The Golden Notebook

Mansfield, Katherine, "The Doll's House," in Selected Stories

Nizan, Paul, Antoine Bloye

O'Casey, Sean, Inishfallen, Fare Thee Well

Orwell, George, The Road to Wigand Pier

Paton, Alan, Tales from a Troubled Land

Peretz, Isaac L., Stories and Pictures

Sacco, Nicolo and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Letters of Sacco and Venzetti ed. Marion Frankfurter and Gardner Jackson

Schreiner, Olive, Story of an African Farm (including afterword by Doris Lessing)

Sinclair, Upton, The Jungle

Tolstoy, Leo, "Nicholas Stick," in Collected Works

Traven, B., Rebellion of the Hanged

Van Gogh, Vincent, "Letters from the Borinage on the miners," in Complete Letters

Verga, Giovanni, "St. Joseph's Ass," in Little Novels of Sicily and "Rosso Malpelo" in The She-Wolf and Other Stories

Voynich, Ethel L., The Gadfly

Whitman, Walt, poetry selections

Woolf, Virginia, A Room of One's Own

Wright, Richard, "Bright and Morning Star" in Uncle Tom's Children

Zola, Emile, Germinal

B. Some students also read the following:

Achebe, Chinua, Arrow of God

Algren, Nelson, "A Bottle of Milk for Mother"

Bontemps, Arna, Black Thunder

DuBois, W.E.B., Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century

Gold, Michael, Jews Without Money

Gorky, Maxim, Mother

Malraux, Andre, Man's Fate

Mphalele, Ezekiel, Down Second Avenue

Ngugi, James Weep Not, Child

Roberts, Elizabeth Madox, The Time of Man

Silone, Ignazio, Bread and Wine

Traven, B., The Death Ship

Tressell, Robert (pseud for Robert Noonan), The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists

Wiesel, Elie, Night

Wright, Richard, Black Boy

Zola, Emile, L'Assomoir

In additon, a number of films were shown, includinag "Gervaise" (L'Assomoir), "Salt of the Earth," "Nothing But A Man," and "The Organizer."

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