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The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales
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The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  418 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The stories in The Conjure Woman were Charles W. Chesnutt's first great literary success, and since their initial publication in 1899 they have come to be seen as some of the most remarkable works of African American literature from the Emancipation through the Harlem Renaissance. Lesser known, though, is that the The Conjure Woman, as first published by Houghton Mifflin, ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 19th 1993 by Duke University Press Books (first published 1899)
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Community Reviews

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Nancy Oakes
On the surface, this book seems to be a series of tales that hark back to the days of plantations and slavery, all connected by The Conjure Woman, who, for a small payment, helps ease the trials and hardships of the slaves by her "goopherin." The book begins when a man, John, and his wife, Annie, move to North Carolina for Annie's health, and they meet Uncle Julius, who becomes their paid servant. Whenever John has plans for his land, he discusses his ideas with Uncle Julius, who then relates a ...more
Chesnutt should be commended for writing almost exclusively in black vernacular of the post Civil War era in the U.S. from the point of view of a free black man. These stories are exhaustingly difficult to read, yet are also enjoyable if read aloud. The authenticity of the language is undeniable. The conjure tales were fascinating and whimsical. Slaves believed family and love to be more important than freedom in these tales which I found touching. My only criticism is that the tales are strewn ...more
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Stefan Yates
The Conjure Woman and Other Tales is a collection of short stories tied together under the umbrella of a frame story in which a white northern couple has relocated to the South and has met a man on their property who they hire on as caretaker. The poor black southerner regales them with tales which they find entertaining but are actually pointing a finger directly at them. The book was first published in the late 1800's and the dialect is that of a poor southern black man and the stories themsel ...more
Stephanie Ambrose
I had to read this in a college course regarding how we view others.

This is a good book...but extremely difficult to bear through it. This may seem a bit selfish, but I hated the literal dictation given to Uncle Julius. Sure, it added realism, but these folk tales would have been a lot more fun to read if I didn't mean that I would have to read each passage 2+ times to understand it.

All in all, if you want to read this book, prepare yourself for some aggravation and have patience.
Themes: slavery, race, magic, sneaky ways for the black man to get his way over the white man
Setting: North Carolina pre-Civil War and about 1880s

Loved these little short stories. All told by Uncle Julius, who manages to use the stories to get what he wants out of the rich white Northerners, one of whom suspects what he's up to, but gives in all the same. These are told in heavy dialect, the kind that makes Huck Finn and Uncle Remus look simple, so if that's going to bother you, don't pick it up
An interesting group of tales; written mostly in dialect, so if you have difficulty reading from the 1880's this will be a bit of a struggle to get through.

The stories are formulaic, but still enjoyable. Probably people of color will find the assumptions and prejudices of the just past reconstruction Southern states reprehensible, but if you can look at it as an artifact of its time it is more palatable.

One thing I especially enjoyed was that the folklore and hoodoo was well told and interestin
Sandro Serrano
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Eric Heff
I discovered Charles Chesnutt in a summer lit course on short stories and I am quite happy with the find. The Conjure stories is a compilation of all Chesnutt's short stories about John, Annie, and Uncle Julius in Patesville, NC. The stories are mostly told through the point of view of Uncle Julius who is an ex-slave. While the first story or two is a little hard to follow with his broken english, you start to get used to it and understand it just fine. While I enjoyed these stories (and wrote o ...more
Kevin El Khoury
I read 'The Goophered Grapevine,' 'The Wife of His Youth,' and 'What is a White Man?'
Pei Halpern
I absolutely loved these stories. They all fall into the same conventional genre, but Chesnutt works masterfully within that genre to enact all sorts of interesting permutations and critiques and shades of meaning. The publication history of these tales is also really interesting, and I think this edition is a particularly nice one since it includes the stories that were considered for publication in the collection but didn't make the cut for various reasons. I'll have to read those after my exa ...more
Suzette Kunz
I had never read Charles Chesnutt before this class I'm taking and I am really impressed. This collection tells a series of folk tales which usually involve a conjure woman helping slaves turn the tables on their white masters in some way.
Chestnutt subversively writes in the guise of plantation fiction, rendering a double meaning to the dialect which the stories are written in. The heavy use of dialect makes this collection a more challenging and concentrated read.
After students tackle the dialect in Huck Finn, send them to Chesnutt. He uses the ig'nert naygroh spaych in the most brilliant kind of way . . . I think he's the most overlooked African American writer of the turn of the century.
Cole Millions
Dialogue was quite hard to follow but the Conjure Tales was very insightful and provided great moral lessons.
Rachael Mariboho
Great local color writing. Chestnutt should be required reading in 19th Century American lit. courses.
Steven Tiberius
Feb 27, 2007 Steven Tiberius rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Voodoo Lady
This is actually a pretty bitchin' collection of old freaky-ass tales from the Bayou or something.
Short folk tales...something different.
Angela Gunter
Pretty good book and funny stories.
Julie Sharpe
Julie Sharpe marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Diana Hayes
Diana Hayes marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2015
Leif marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2015
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Charles Waddell Chesnutt was an author, essayist and political activist, best known for his novels and short stories exploring complex issues of racial and social identity.
More about Charles W. Chesnutt...
The Marrow of Tradition The House Behind the Cedars The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories Conjure Tales and Stories of the Color Line The Conjure Woman

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