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W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.
Arguably a contender for the Great American Novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece is W. E. B. Du Bois's powerful first novel about Zora, a determined, strong Southern black woman who seeks to transcend race and social class in the late nineteenth century. Following the same path of the Greek myth after which it was named, Du Bois's novel confronts not only economic and political circumstances, but also racial and social issues of the time. Over a century after its original publication, we return to The Quest again and again for its political boldness about sexual, gender, and economic institutions. Zora, a breakthrough in the portrayal of black women, stands as a model of courage in a volatile moment in history. The novel portrays not only a story of economics but also of love, gender, and race. With a series introduction by editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an introduction by William L. Andrews, this edition is essential for anyone interested in African American history.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He has edited several major reference works, including Dictionary of African Biography, African American Lives,Africana, and African American National Biography. In addition, he is Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center (www.oxfordaasc.com).