The Autobiography of Leroi Jones

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9781556522314: The Autobiography of Leroi Jones

The complete autobiography of a literary legend.

Poet, dramatist, novelist, critic, teacher, and political activist Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones, vividly recounts his crusading role in African American literature. A driving force behind the Black Arts Movement, the prolific Baraka retells his experiences from his participation in avant-garde literature after World War II and his role in Black nationalism after the assassination of Malcolm X to his conversion to Islam and his commitments to an international socialist vision.

 

When The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones was first published in 1984, the publisher made substantial cuts in the copy. Under the careful direction of the author, the book has been restored to its original form. This is the first complete and unexpurgated version of Baraka’s life and work.

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Review:

First published in 1984, this is a revised edition of The Autobiography of Leroi Jones, which includes the original text (restored by the author) as well as a new introduction. Born Leroi Jones in 1934--he became Amiri Baraka in the mid-1960s---he is one of the seminal figures of contemporary black writing, a poet, playwright, novelist, critic, and political activist. Even more than those labels indicate, however, Baraka has been at the heart of literary and ideological ferment since the 1950s. Early in his career, he was strongly influenced by the Beats. During the cultural upheaval of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, he moved uptown to Harlem, changed his name, and embraced a religion that was a hybrid of Islam and traditional African principles. And then, in the 1970s, Baraka turned his back on Black Nationalism and embraced Marxist Leninism. The autobiography, written in Baraka's inimitable style, one that we might call word-jazz, ends there.

From the Back Cover:

Poet, dramatist, novelist, critic, teacher, and political activist Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones, vividly recounts his crusading role in African-American literature. A driving force behind the Black Arts Movement, the prolific Baraka retells his experiences from his participation in avant-garde literature after World War II and his role in Black nationalism after the assassination of Malcolm X to his conversion to Islam and his commitment to an international socialist vision. When The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones was first published in 1984, the publisher made substantial cuts in the copy. Under the careful direction of the author, the book has been restored to its original form. This is the first complete and unexpurgated version of Baraka's life and work.

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