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However, this radical verse landed him in serious trouble at home.In the 1940s and 1950s, Hughes became the target of smear campaigns and FBI surveillance.In his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Hughes compares his knowledge of his people’s past with the depth of a river.
Similarly, scholars have neglected Hughes’s plays, his translations of writers such as Federico García Lorca and Jacques Roumain, and his extensive journalism.
Since the mid-1990s, however, the landscape of Hughes studies has changed significantly as scholars have increasingly challenged the view of Hughes as a straightforward and even shallow writer.
With the exception of Emanuel 1967 (cited under Biographies) and Barksdale 1977 (cited under Criticism: Poetry), critical overviews of Hughes’s work have thus taken the shape of essay collections.
Most valuable among the essay collections are O’Daniel 1971, Tracy 2004, Tidwell and Ragar 2007, and Miller 2013, which offer original scholarship rather than reprints.
Langston Hughes’s writing showcases a variety of themes and moods, and his distinguished career led his biographer, Arnold Rampersad, to describe him as “perhaps the most representative black American writer.” Many of his poems illustrate his role as a spokesman for African American society and the working poor.
In others, he relates his ideas on the importance of heritage and the past.
” he relates his resentment that he must sell his own thoughts and feelings, an integral part of his being, simply to afford food to survive.
Hughes’s reference to a “perfumed note” again illustrates the disdain he believes the overbearing aristocrats feel for his people.
Fewer scholarly monographs on Hughes are available than one might expect, given the length of his career and the sheer volume of writing he produced.
Comprehensive studies of Hughes’s writings are even rarer because of the difficulty of doing justice to Hughes’s multigenre oeuvre.