The Conjure Woman. By Charles W. Chesnutt. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
Not withstanding our inveterate dislike of dialect stories, we have found these seven tales of negro conjuring at the South not only endurable but admirable. First, because the dialect is correct: it is not that manufactured "nigger talk" which people use who never new the negro in his native habitat at the South; and it would hardly be possible to give the negro's ideas otherwise than in his own talk. If Mr. Chesnutt had attempted to describe the negro superstition of witchcraft, he might have done it very well--no doubt he would--but he would no more have given the negro's ideas that a botanist gives a picture of a flower by describing its botanical classification. These stories, considered merely as stories, are amusing. Considered as veracious accounts of an actual superstition of real live negroes, as the negroes are to this day in North Carolina, the stories have a high value as history.
Review of The Conjure Woman, in "Books," The Church Standard [Philadelphia] 77, 20 May 1899: 89.