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[Review of The Conjure Woman]


Seven excellent darky dialect stories make up "The Conjure Woman," by Chas. W. Chesnutt. They are all told by an old darky called "Uncle Julius," who is a very shrewd character in his way as well as a most eloquent narrator. The link that binds them together is the superstitious regard had by the colored people for the powers of an old negress, "Aunt Peggy," who was supposed to be able to "goopher" or work a speel upon others. In moments of distress or in perplexity of any sort her services were called into play by the presentation of an offering of some sort as a mess of peas, or potatoes, or a young "shote." She could turn people into animals and back again at will and by "working the roots" her powers were miraculous. The mystic element of the darky character is well brought out and in a manner that presents a graphic picture of slave life. Not the least interesting phase of the tales is the clever way in which old "Uncle Julius" makes each weird superstition work for his selfish ends. His story always points a moral, which indirectly, but none the less efficaciously works his will. There is much humor mingled with the pathos that seems inseparable from the negro character. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Cincinnati: Clarke.