Skip to main content

[Review of The Conjure Woman]

Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt has not been long known as a delineator of the life and character of our colored brethren, but his little volume, entitled The Conjure Woman, is quite clever, and entertaining enough to compare well with the work of men far more prominent. The scene of these tales is laid in central North Carolina, and their theme is the still firmly rooted superstition of the ignorant Negroes on the subject of the marvelous powers of the much-dreaded "gopher," supposed to be exercised by certain favored members of their race. The stories are told by a delightfully garrulous old darkey, "Uncle Julius," whose memory reaches back to the palmy ante-bellum days, and who has many things to tell the interested Northerner, the purchaser of a vineyard in the neighborhood, of 'ha'ants' and their uncanny ways, of the feats of old Aunt Peggy, "the conjure woman," and the virtues of the mystic rabbit's foot. The shrewd old fellow always manages to turn his yarns to his own advantage, while furnishing entertainment to his white friends that fills many a tedious hour, and thus they serve a double purpose. The author has drawn from the life with a firm yet light touch, showing intelligent perception, humor, and sympathy, and his little book is really exceedingly readable. (Houghton, Mifflin, & Co., Boston. 12mo. $1.25.)