This week we go back more than 130 years to hear the work of Charles Chestnutt. Charles is often considered the first important Black American novelist, and his collection of short stories “The Conjure Woman” are available for free on Amazon and Project Gutenberg. Links are in the show notes. The son of a free Black man and free Black woman, he and his family fled North Carolina after the Civil War. He worked as a teacher and attorney. His story “The Goophered Grapevine” was the first work published by a Black writer in The Atlantic Monthly, and although the story refuted the benevolent plantations of popular lore of the day, most readers at the time didn’t catch the irony in his words. Charles also wrote a biography of Frederick Douglass and over time, his work began to more directly challenge social injustice.
Our story today, “Gray Wolf’s Hant”, is one of the lesser known tales in the Conjure Woman collection. The original story is full of the dialect of the time, and at some places might have been challenging for listeners today to follow, so I’ve made some small adjustments to the language in an attempt to translate it into modern language, while maintaining the dialect. Listeners should also note that this piece uses the N-word several times, spoken by a Black character, but if you find that offensive, you’ll want to skip this story. We’ll have another for you next week.
And now, the Gray Wolf’s Ha’nt by Charles Chesnutt.
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This week’s story comes from the first widely known Black novelist, Charles Chesnutt. If you’re familiar with American Southern lore, you’ve probably heard of haints, a kind of spirit feared by many. We think you’ll enjoy this story of conjure and revenge.
You can read more of Charles Chesnutt’s stories from The Conjure Woman for free on
Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11666
or via Amazon: https://amzn.to/2uKbJsA
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