Minnie's Sacrifice, Sowing and Reaping, Trial and Triumph: Three Rediscovered Novels
In one of the most significant literary finds since the publication of Harriet Wilson's Our Nig, Frances Smith Foster has rediscovered three novels ... Show synopsis In one of the most significant literary finds since the publication of Harriet Wilson's Our Nig, Frances Smith Foster has rediscovered three novels by Frances E. W. Harper, the best known African-American woman writer of the nineteenth century. Originally serialized in issues of the Christian Recorder, the official journal of the A.M.E. Church, these novels are the first substantial body of fiction known to have been written for a specifically African-American audience. They also correct the assumption that the classic, Iola Leroy, was Harper's only novel. Using the popular nineteenth-century form of the sentimental novel, Harper draws us into the social problems faced by "middle-class" African-Americans after the Civil War. The heroine of Minnie's Sacrifice must weigh the social benefits of passing for white against her desire to join the African-American struggle for equality and justice. Sowing and Reaping focuses on the issue of temperance, and domestic issues of courtship and marriage form the basis for Trial and Triumph, a lively drama about finding a suitable mate. With timeless themes of social justice, social responsibility, and sexuality, as well as further illuminating the importance of black church teachings in African-American literature, these novels shed light on the lives of nineteenth-century African-Americans. Their discovery promises to change dramatically our understanding of American literature.