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--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.
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Extrait

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.

And yet, being a problem is a strange experience--peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys' and girls' heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards--ten cents a package--and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card,--refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful tales that swam in my head,--some way. With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry, Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above.

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&rsquos self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two souls, 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. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.

This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius. These powers of body and mind have in the past been strangely wasted, dispersed, or forgotten. The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the Shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. Here in America, in the few days since Emancipation, the black man's turning hither and thither in hesitant and doubtful striving has often made his very strength to lose effectiveness, to seem like absence of power, like weakness. And yet it is not weakness,--it is the contradiction of double aims. The double-aimed struggle of the black artisan--on the one hand to escape white contempt for a nation of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to plough and nail and dig for a poverty-stricken horde--could only result in making him a poor craftsman, for he had but half a heart in either cause. By the poverty and ignorance of his people, the Negro minister or doctor was tempted toward quackery and demagogy; and by the criticism of the other world, toward ideals that made him ashamed of his lowly tasks. The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing and a-singing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people,--has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves.

Away back in the days of bondage they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and disappointment; few men ever worshipped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries. To him, so far as he thought and dreamed, slavery was indeed the sum of all villainies, the cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; Emancipation was the key to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. In song and exhortation swelled one refrain--Liberty; in his tears and curses, the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came,&mdashsuddenly, fearfully, like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences:--

'Shout, O children!
Shout, you're free!
For God has bought your liberty!'

Years have passed away since then,--ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation's feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem:--

'Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble!'

The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people,--a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people.

The first decade was merely a prolongation of the vain search for freedom, the boon that seemed ever barely to elude their grasp,--like a tantalizing will-o'-the-wisp, maddening and misleading the headless host. The holocaust of war, the terrors of the Ku-Klux Klan, the lies of carpetbaggers, the disorganization of industry, and the contradictory advice of friends and foes, left the bewildered serf with no new watchword beyond the old cry for freedom. As the time flew, however, he began to grasp a new idea. The ideal of liberty demanded for its attainment powerful means, and these the Fifteenth Amendment gave him. The ballot, which before he had looked upon as a visible sign of freedom, he now regarded as the chief means of gaining and perfecting the liberty with which war had partially endowed him. And why not? Had not votes made war and emancipated millions? Had not votes enfranchised the freedmen? Was anything impossible to a power that had done all this? A million black men started with renewed zeal to vote themselves into the kingdom. So the decade flew away, the revolution of 1876 came, and left the half-free serf weary, wondering, but still inspired. Slowly but steadily, in the following years, a new vision began gradually to replace the dream of political power,--a powerful movement, the rise of another ideal to guide the unguided, another pillar of fire by night after a clouded day. It was the ideal of 'book-learning'; the curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know. Here at last seemed to have been discovered the mountain path to Canaan; longer than the highway of Emancipation and law, steep and rugged, but straight, leading to heights high enough to overlook life.

Up the new path the advance guard toiled, slowly, heavily, doggedly; only those who have watched and guided the faltering feet, the misty minds, the dull understandings of the dark pupils of these schools know how faithfully, how piteously, this people strove to learn. It was weary work. The cold statistician wrote down the inches of progress here and there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, the mists were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away. If, however, the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting-place, little but flattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for reflection and self-examination; it changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect. In those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself,--darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself some faint revelation of his power, of his mission. He began to have a dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself, and not another. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that dead-weight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem. He felt his poverty; without a cent, without a home, without land, tools, or savings, he had entered into competition with rich, landed, skilled neighbors. To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships. He felt the weight of his ignorance,--not simply of letters, but of life, of business, of the humanities; the accumulated sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centuries shackled his hands and feet. Nor was his burden all poverty and ignorance. The red stain of bastardy, which two centuries of systematic legal defilement of Negro women had stamped upon his race, meant not only the loss of ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of corruption from white adulterers, threatening almost the obliteration of the Negro home.
A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is darkened by the shadow of a vast despair. Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as the natural defence of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the 'higher' against the 'lower' races. To which the Negro cries Amen! and swears that to so much of this strange prejudice as is founded on just homage to civilization, culture, righteousness, and progress, he humbly bows and meekly does obeisance. But before that nameless prejudice that leaps beyond all this he stands helpless, dismayed, and well-nigh speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule and systematic humiliation, the distortion of fact and wanton license of fancy, the cynical ignoring of the better and the boisterous welcoming of the worse, the all-pervading desire to inculcate disdain for everything black, from Toussaint to the devil,--before this there rises a sickening despair that would disarm and discourage any nation save that black host to whom 'discouragement' is an unwritten word.


From the eBook edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

“One hundred years after publication, there is in the entire body of social criticism still no more than a handful of meditations on the promise and failings of democracy in America to rival William Edward Burghardt Du Bois’s extraordinary collection of fourteen essays.” —from the Introduction by David Levering Lewis --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 395 commentaires
166 internautes sur 175 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Du Bois, Race and "The Color Line" 16 décembre 2000
Par Matthew Stelly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The Souls of Black Folks, as other reviewers have pointed out, is a masterpiece of African-American thought. But it is even more than that when we consider the context and time in which the book was written. Most of what DuBois discusses is still relevant today, and this is a tribute to the man, not only as a scholar, but as someone who was continually adapting his views in the best image and interests of black people.
Some reviewers refer to DuBois as "the Black Emerson" and, as a university instructor, I heard similar references made: 'the Black Dewey" or "the Black Park," referring to the Chicago School scholars. Du Bois was brilliant; indeed, these white men should be being called "the white Du Bois"! Du Bois literally created the scientific method of observation and qualitative research. With the junk being put out today in the name of "dissertations," simply re-read Du Bois' work on the Suppression of the African Slave Trade and his work on the Philadelphia Negro and it is clear that he needs not be compared to any white man of his time or any other: he was a renaissance man who cared about his people and, unlike too many of the scholars of day, he didn't just talk the talk or write the trite; he walked the walk and organized the unorganizable.
White racism suffered because Du Bois raised the consciousness of the black masses. But he did more than that; by renouncing his American citizenship and moving to Ghana, he proved that Pan Africanism is not just something to preach or write about (ala Molefi Asante, Tony Martin, Jeffries and other Africanists); it is a way of life, both a means and an end. Du Bois organized the first ever Pan African Congress and, in doing so, set the stage for Afrocentricity, Black Studies and the Bandung Conference which would be held in 1954 in Bandung, Indonesia. Du Bois not only affected people in this country, he was a true internationalist.
Souls of Black Folk is an important narrative that predates critical race theory. It is an important reading, which predates formal Black Studies. The book calls for elevation of black people by empowering black communities -- today's leadership is so starved for acceptance that I believe that Karenga was correct when he says that these kind of people "often doubt their own humanity."
The book should be read by all.
35 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Powerful and Progressive - an Important Book For All to Read 5 octobre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
"Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of beling black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century." -W.E.B. DuBois, in the Forethought
This book contains essays written by W.E.B. DuBois. Some of them are very historical and recount the African American events and progess, and some of them are very personal, in which DuBois tells about his own life. I learned a lot from reading this book. For instance, I had always thought of what an awful thing slavery was- a horrible part of America's history- and that is was such a good thing that it was finally stopped. However, I never thought about the implications of life for the ex-slave after it was ended. Here were many African Americans, free, yes, but with what? Nothing. How would they get anywhere without money, education, jobs, etc.? And after freeing them leaders imposed unfair segragation and Jim Crow laws upon African Americans, so they were not really free at all.
Another thing that interested me about this book was the evolution of the slave's religion. It is very interesting to me how DuBois discusses their original religion of magic/ancestor and earth worship,etc and their gradual progression to the Christian religion of their masters, and then back to the beginning in an almost cyclical pattern. I don't think the African-American culture would be the same at all today if it were not for this mix of religious belief, although some would argue about how good it was for a religion to be forced about them and I would tend to agree.
W.E.B. DuBois was a pioneer of African American literature and thought. This book of essays will make you rethink the progress and status of African Americans throughout America's history, and will help you understand and sympathesize much more. I do agree with a previous review's critique that this book has some disturbing anti-semitic passages in it; in fact, a friend of mine wrote her paper for our 20th Century American Literature Class on that subject, so that did point that problem out to me. I find it strange that DuBois can so effectively and reasonably argue for the equality of African-Americans while so irrationably spout such anti-semitic comments. Except for this problem (which should not be overlooked), the book is very important and powerful, and it did and continues to do a lot for the advancement of African-Americans in the US.
59 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Must read for anyone interested in American history and lit. 19 octobre 1999
Par Jonathan Lechter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I can remeber reading this book in my liberal high school for our American lit class and thinking that they just stuck it in for diversity's sake--that black history and American history are separate entities. But as I began to study more history in college I began to realize that American history could not exist without black history and experience--that Dubois' insights into double identity and how racism affects both the reciever and promulgator of racism in insidious ways are crucial to understanding of how America continues to wrestle with the implications of hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow and now, more subtle racism.
I haven't read the book in 8 years, but Dubois description of the moment when a black child realizes achieves enough self awarenesss to undersstand that he is "black" and what that means to one's sense of self (at least in the 1910's south) is absolutely heartbreaking.
31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 New Pregnant Meanings for each Decade 22 avril 2008
Par Herbert L Calhoun - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
These essays, actually sketches and ruminations of DuBois', remain an enduring backdrop for the picture in which race in America is framed. At the end of each decade, they seem to continue emitting new pregnant meanings:

During the decade of the 60s, when I first read the book, it seemed to be an open message to white America about the Negro: an appeal, as it were, that "the Negro was on the march," and that his main instrument of entering the American mainstream (his only secure dream) was his spiritual cadence and his deep and abiding faith in religion, and equally deep faith in the meaning of the American revolution, and in the American dream and its misapplied ideals. A warning was issued in the "parable of the Coming of John": a reckoning of this fractured meaning and it's implied promises inevitably had to occur.

When I read it during the 70s, it seemed more like an interior dialogue between "Blacks," about "being constantly on the struggle against racism." It was especially a dialogue between the "uneducated and unsophisticated" on the one hand, and "the educated and sophisticated" (the "so-called "talented tenth"), on the other. But also it was a dialogue between the conservative forces of "compromise" that wanted to win by "turning the other cheek," and the more progressive and revolutionary forces who wanted to do so "by any means necessary." Yes, Martin and Malcolm were summoned up through DuBois' words in the same debate that had occurred two generations before between DuBois and Booker T. Washington. The words, but not the structure of the arguments, had changed. They were issued with the same degree of passion, and with the same unfortunate results: more promises, but powerful little "real progress," and then the murders of both Martin and Malcolm.

Then when I read it in the 80s the meaning took on an entirely different character for me. I had watched DuBois' struggle at close range, as I had that of other black intellectuals and heroes, like Paul Roberson, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, etc. They all followed a pattern: the black heroes were either forced out of the country, or left voluntarily as DuBois, Cleaver and Stokely eventually did, or were jailed, deemed to be social outcasts, or killed. Those remaining were co-opted and otherwise neutered: It became clearer and clearer that the "Souls of Black Folk" were not about black people after all, but, in relief, was just a mirror of the "dark troubled souls of white people."

DuBois' little book now began to make sense: His references to Freud, to Marx, his most famous line "the problem of the color line," and of course his parable: "The Coming of John" all seemed to snap into perfect alignment: The Souls of Black Folks was no longer about blacks, but in relief, in its subtext, was about the tenacity and persistence of "white hatred, white fear, and white resistance", about the fear in the white heart: The problem of race, the problem of the color line was not about blacks at all, but was about white fear and resistance to the very thing they claim to cherish most: "freedom and equality."

In the 90s this frightening new meaning of the "Souls of Black Folk" as a metaphor for white fear and resistance was being "filled-in" and confirmed: For instance, even though the language of race and racism had begun to change, (it now had a positive patina grafted on to it) but as was the case eight decades before, little else had changed. The resisters had circled their psychological wagons. Morally they had been forced into a defensive crouch if not back into the closet altogether, but they were far from going away: Through a new vocabulary of coded language, and the false civility of "political correctness," and "tokenism," a misappropriation of Dr. King's life and death, a feint back to rightwing religious ideology, by exaggerating non-existent racial progress, and through a whole repertoire of other reactionary stratagems, they were scrambling to make a determined comeback, a final desperate attempt to retain the old meanings.

Now at the turn of the new millennium, even as it appears that our first Black (half white) President" might replace our most incompetent (all white) president, "The Souls of Black People," are again just a reflection of what is hidden in the white heart. Now it is hidden under the elusive and empty notion of "multiculturalism." In today's racial narrative, DuBois' black souls are: the "troubled inner city," with its statistics of horror, with its "at risk low-achieving children," its "high crime rates," "the troubled public schools," the "welfare mothers," and the "social meltdown" more generally.

The souls of Black Folk have been fragmented and shredded down to nothing. In the mean while, its reflection, its doppelganger: the America's reactionary white forces, with their hatred and fear normalized in plain sight, are again on the march, winning as usual by fiat: They have succeeded in changing the scenery on "front street" so that there, America looks very much like racial progress would look if America ever decided to have any, but everything else in the background, on the back streets -- the context, the pretext, and the subtext of American racism -- remains exactly the same as it did in 1903.

Five Stars
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Black Emerson 10 août 2000
Par Bruce Kendall - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
If you are unaquainted with this book or with this author, you should remedy the situation immediately. In terms of eloquence, clear and ringing prose, descriptive power and any other quality that seperates great writers from mediocre ones, Dubois stands in the first rank. If Afro-Americans had had access to this book on a mass scale, there would have been a third real revolution in this country (I include the Civil War, obviously). This is the voice of suffering, but also of great ideas and ironclad arguement. It is also an incitement and very much an indictment, against racial boundaries that have plagued this nation since its inception. Dubois was and is one of the most powerful voices this country has ever produced. My jaw dropped on numerous occasions when first reading this text. He conveyed better than any other author, and there have been many great ones (Baldwin, Morrison, Wright, etc.) what it means to be "seperate, but equal." He is never an apologist. He at all moments maintains the dignity of his race. I really prefer in all aspects his demaeanor to Marcus Garvey's, even though that author was a more prominent "player." For modern revisionists (like Jane Smiley)who think that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was "great literature," I would recommend that they read this text and then decide. One voice is authentic, the other sorely disingenuous, and even, historically, counter-productive.
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