16 AUGUST 1930, Page 28

Mrs. Paul Robeson's biography of her husband-Paul Robeson, Negro (Gollanez.

10s. 6d.)-appears at first sight to be an indiscriminate eulogy accompanied by a rather tedious cata- logue of social successes, especially among white people. Fortunately, however, Mrs. Robeson has provided us with the material which enables us to understand the meaning of a great deal of it, in her account of negro life in the United States and this, together with what she tells us of Robeson's own life, does a great deal to justify both the catalogue and the eulogy. In a society where a great artist, acknowledged to be so by all the critics, can be turned away from a hotel because of his race, his escape from the social limitations imposed upon that race is in itself worthy to be chronicled. And so, also, are Robeson's personal achievements, from his leadership of the Rutgers football team, which had never before included a negro, to the latest development, the invitation to play Othello. Mrs. Robeson paints the portrait of a very attractive personality, and does so with a frankness of detail which will be almost alarming to some English readers, accustomed to a greater reserve. Still more interesting, however, is her vivid picture of negro life. She gives us first the community life of migrated slaves in the North, the place of the Church in that life, the, power and personality of some of the negro preachers, of whom Robeson's father was one, the loyalty and kindliness of the negroes to each other and their isolation from the white community. Then she. takes us to Harlem, that great district in New York which the negroes have claimed for themselves by exploiting the disdain of the whites, where the negroes live their own life, into which the white people cannot penetrate. She shows us the reserve and delicacy of the better educated negroes, their complicated and humorous defences against the whites, loyalty to their friends who are " passing " (as white), and the colour and fulness of their lives among their own people. In this respect the book is indeed memorable. Robeson's life is an epic for the negro race in America, and may do some good among those who are not of his race, if it causes them to feel in any way ashamed.

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