A few days ago I started to post something pertaining to the fact that I hadn’t started reading Black Boy yet. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to read while proctoring a test and while waiting for someone. Needless to say, I’m now halfway through the book. A friend of mine asked how the book is in comparison to Native Son. I believe you can definitely see where many of the ideas for the novel came from.
Hunger appears to be the major focus in the first half of the book (and maybe in the entire book, but I wouldn’t know since I’m not finished). I think this hunger stretches beyond just a physical stomach hunger. Wright hungers for knowledge. He hungers for money and a better life. He hungers for spiritual truth–maybe even enlightenment. I also believe he hungers for positive attention from his family.
As I attempt to complete the book (sometimes I rather watch television or chill), I wanted to post something to confirm that I am actually reading. Here’s a little something I found on the unreliable source that they call Wikipedia (I still think it’s cool though):
Wright discusses a number of literary influences in Black Boy. As a young man living in Memphis, TN, he began an intense reading period in which he became familiar with a wide range of authors, many of them contemporary American authors. Of that period in his life he wrote: Reading was like a drug, a dope. The novels created moods in which I lived for days. The following are some of authors who Wright read in that period:
- H.L. Mencken – I was jarred and shocked by the style, the clear, clean sweeping sentences. I pictured the man as a raging demon, slashing with his pen…
- Gertrude Stein – Under the influence of Stein’s Three Lives I spent hours and days pounding out disconnected sentences for the sheer love of words.
- Sinclair Lewis – It made me see my boss..and identify him as an American type..
- Marcel Proust – on Remembrance of Things Past: the vast, delicate, intricate, and psychological structure…
Judging Wright’s sketchy educational foundation, can one acquire an acceptable education from books and reading alone? I’m really interested in finding out what assisted Wright in developing into the writer we know him as today. I’m sure education back then wasn’t as “structured” as it is today. It’s just really interesting to see that even with numerous missed days and months of school that he was still able to become this internationally acclaimed writer. Something to think about. You think Richard Wright was worried about standardized testing?