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Lyrics Of Sunshine & Shadow: The Tragic Courtship & Marriage Of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore by Eleanor Alexander. New York. 2002. New York University Press. hardcover. 243 pages.  ABOUT THE COVER: Paul Laurence Dunbar, C. 1900. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society. Alice Moore Dunbar, C. 1900. Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers, University of Delaware library, Newark Delaware.  0814706967.

 

0814706967FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   On February 10, 1906 Alice Ruth Moore, estranged wife of renowned early- twentieth-century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, boarded a streetcar, settled comfortably into her seat, and opened her newspaper to learn of her husband’s death the day before. Paul Laurence Dunbar, son of former slaves, whom Frederick Douglass had dubbed ‘the most promising young colored man in America,’ was dead from tuberculosis at the age of 33. LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW traces the tempestuous romance of America’s most noted African American literary couple. Drawing on a variety of love letters, diaries, journals, and autobiographies, Eleanor Alexander vividly recounts Dunbar and Moore’s tumultuous affair, from a courtship conducted almost entirely through letters and an elopement brought on by Dunbar’s brutal drunken rape of Moore, through their passionate marriage and its eventual violent dissolution in 1902. Moore, once having left Dunbar, rejected his every entreaty to return to him, responding to his many letters only once, with a blunt, one-word telegram (‘No’). This is a remarkable story of tragic romance among African American elites struggling to define themselves and their relationships within the context of post-slavery America. As such, it provides a timely examination of the ways in which cultural ideology and politics shape and complicate conceptions of romantic love. ‘Tells a fascinating tale of two compelling figures whose lives were intriguing, at times harrowing, and in many ways tragic. At the same time, Alexander investigates a broader topic - the history of African American intimacy - yet to be explored in depth.  A riveting narrative.’ - MARTHA HODES, New York University.

 

 

ELEANOR ALEXANDER is Assistant Professor of History at Georgia Institute of Technology.

 

 

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