The Conjure Woman
The Conjure Woman. By Charles A. Chesnutt. Cloth. pp. 229 $1.25. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
To win new laurels from the field in which Ruth McEnery Stuart and Joel Chandler Harris have gained theirs is no mean distinction, and this Mr. Chesnutt has accomplished. The tales told by Uncle Julius of the wondrous doings of the "cunjure ‘oman" have a charm of their own, and Uncle Julius bids fair to rival Uncle Remus in our affections, with his transparent craftiness and childlike faith in his own stories, arguing convincingly that "Dey’s so many things a body knows is lies, dat dey ain’t no use gwine roun’ findin’ fault wid tales dat mought dez ez well be so ez not." There is a deep vein of unconscious pathos underlying the wonder and humor of the old man’s narratives, the services of the conjure woman being called in when the sale of sweetheart, wife or child threatens the dusky lover’s happiness, as in "Po’ Sandy" and "Sis’ Becky’s Pickaninny." Or to mitigate the horrors of the reign of an unprincipled master, as in "Mars Jeems’s Nightmare." The potency of the ‘conjure' in affairs of the heart is the theme of "The Conjurers Revenge." "The Gray Wolf’s Ha’nt," and "Hotfoot Hannibal," while the irresistible humor of "The Goophered Grape Vine," the initial story, is without a shadow. From the cover the benign countenance of Uncle Julius regards us flanked on either side by a portrait of "Brier Rabbit," whose "lef’ hin’-foot" is sure to bring good luck.
"The Conjure Woman," in "Book Reviews," Public Opinion [Washington] 26 (June 15, 1899): 762-3.