John Henry: Roark Bradford's Novel and Play
Roark Bradford's 1931 novel and 1939 play dealing with the legendary folk-hero John Henry (both titled John Henry) were extremely influential in their own time, but have since then been nearly forgotten. Steven C. Tracy has united these hard-to-find works in a single critical edition that helps contextualize-and revive-both texts. An expansive introduction explores Bradford's life; recounts critical responses to his works; and surveys John Henry's pervasive influence in folk, literary, and popular culture. The volume also features a wide array of supplementary materials including a selected bibliography and discography, transcriptions of folksong texts and recordings available during the 1930s, and a chronology of the lives of both Bradford and Henry. As Tracy's introduction makes clear, such a consideration of Bradford-set in the context of writers, both black and white, drawing upon African American folklore and using dialects along with stereotypical and non-stereotypical portrayals-is long overdue. This new edition is a windfall for scholars and students of folklore and African American literature.