An early slave narrative, a skilfully woven satire on the stereotypes of plantation life and the apparently beneficent white owner. Told as a series of gentle fables, in the style of Aesop.
Featuring a new introduction for this new edition, The Conjure Woman is probably Chesnutt's most powerful work, a collection of stories set in post-war North Carolina. The main character is Uncle Julius, a former slave, who entertains a white couple from the North with fantastic tales of antebellum plantation life. Julius tells of supernatural phenomenon, hauntings, transfiguration, and conjuring, which were typical of Southern African-American folk tales at the time. Uncle Julius tells the stories in a way that speaks beyond his immediate audience, offering stories of slavery and inequality that are, to the enlightened reader, obviously wrong. The tales are fabulistic, like those of Uncle Remus or Aesop, with carefully crafted allegories on the psychological and social effects of slavery and racial injustice.
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was an African-American author, essayist, political activist and lawyer, known for his novels and short stories exploring complex issues of racial and social identity in the post-Civil War South of America. He worked with W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington in the cause of emancipation and equality for African Americans.