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Studies in 'Local Color' and Dialect


THE CONJURE WOMAN. By Charles W. Chesnutt. Duodecimo, pp. 229. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

Mr. Chesnutt introduces a great deal of negro dialect into "The Conjure Woman," and negro dialect is so often a weariness to the flesh that it requires patience to get well started in the reading of his book. The patience is rewarded. Uncle Julius McAdoo, the ancient negro from whose lips fall astounding yarns, is not, after all, obscure in his dialect, and he is himself a pleasing character, compounded of simplicity and shrewdness. The later quality is deftly used by Mr. Chesnutt in winding up the daring inventions set forth by Julius, so that their improbability is somehow softened and excused. Amazement at the recklessness of the negro imagination gives place to a quiet smile over the old fellow's wit in using his legends to gain his own ends. A gentle humor lurks in "The Conjure Woman" and we welcome the book as a minor but amusing performance.