First published in 1900 during an era when many white American leaders waxed hysterical about the threat to "Anglo-Saxon civilization" posed by racial intermixing, The House Behind the Cedars sensitively explores the lives and fates of John and Rena Walden, two young African-Americans who decide to pass for white in order to claim their share of the American dream.
An early masterwork among American literary treatments of miscegenation, Chesnutt’s story is of two young African Americans who decide to pass for white in order to claim their share of the American dream.
Judith Jackson Fossett, associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, is the author of Illuminated Darkness: Slavery and Its Shadows in Nineteenth-Century America and the editor of Race Consciousness: African-American Studies for the New Century.
“A pioneering work about racial passing.”
—Werner Sollors, Harvard University
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