From Publishers Weekly
First issued serially by the Christian Register
in 1865 and then lost to archival oblivion, this novel by Williamsport, Pa., resident Collins will revise the chronology of African-American literature. It is, according to Andrews and Kachun (professors of English and history, respectively), the "first serialized novel by an African American woman and the first non-autobiographical novel to be authored by a historically verified African American woman"—displacing previous claimants Harriet Wilson (Our Nig
) and Hannah Crafts (The Bondswoman's Narrative
). Its heroine, "strangely, wildly, and darkly beautiful" Claire Neville, knows nothing of her parentage and can't get the answers from "old beloved nurse" Juno (who definitely knows). After finishing school (courtesy of a mystery patron), she takes a position as a governess for a New Orleans family. The revelations and tearful encounters spiral out from there, and one must surrender to the silent movie spirit in which a pure, innocent young woman's happiness is threatened by a "villain [with] a heart black as the shadows of Hades." The editors provide a wealth of secondary material, but it's not necessary for readers to have a ball with this utterly wild novel. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This text enlightens today's reader in matters of representations of race, African American women's authorial venues, and the readership of newspapers during Reconstruction. The editing is careful and clear. Essential."--F. Martin, Choice
"The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride, is believed by some scholars to be the first novel ever published by an African-American woman. Whatever the case, "The Curse of Caste" provides insights into contemporary attitudes about black women's sexuality and miscegenation."--Dinitia Smith, The New York Times
"This republication of Julia C. Collins' Civil-War era novel represents a remarkable act of literary recovery. Collins' work and the invaluable supporting material accompanying it here deeply enrich our understanding of American life during her turbulent times."--Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., University of California, Irvine, author of The Origins of African American Literature, 1680-1865
"Following the precedent set by Harriet Wilson's Our Nig, Julia Collins' The Curse of Caste is a compelling, imaginative rendering of the intersections of race and class at the close of the Civil War. William Andrews is the leading scholar of 19th century African American literature, and the work of Andrews and Mitch Kachun on The Curse of Caste is a model of judicious and sensitive editing."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University