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[Review of The Conjure Woman]

One of the most entertaining volumes of short stories of the negro life and character is "The Conjure Woman" by Charles W Chesnutt. The present volume deals with characters and scenes drawn from life among the colored people before the civil war, a life whose intensity was smothered under an exterior of careless acceptance or passive endurance. It is a series of seven stories, linked by the fact that their narrator is each time the same person and that the power of the "conjure woman" is the dominant moral of each, set in a framework furnished by the incident of a Northern man's decision, when seeking a beneficial change of climate for his wife's health, to establish himself in central North Carolina. The McAdoo plantation, five miles from the typical "country seat and commercial emporium" of a Southern State, attracts his attention as being well adapted to grape culture, the business in which he intended to engage. In one of his visits, preliminary to purchase, he makes the acquaintance of old Julius, who, unable to break the habits of many years, had attached himself to the plantation where he had been born with a feeling which the author designates as predial, rather than proprietary. It is Julius who enlarges the knowledge of the Northern gentleman and his wife–the Annie whose verbal photograph is nowhere given, but whom we come to realize very clearly through the delicate touches by which we are taken into confidence on the femininity of her tastes and reasonings–with the information that people, places and things can be "goophered–cunju'd, bewitch'," solemn proof of which is given in the stories which he at divers times and in sundry places relates to them, stories that form a collection unique in subject and unusual for mastery of knowing what not to say. Published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. For sale in Portland by Loring, Short & Harmon.