By Langston Hughes
Introduction via Arnold Rampersad.
Langston Hughes, born in 1902, got here of age early within the Nineteen Twenties. In The titanic Sea he recounts these memorable years within the nice playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he used to be a prepare dinner and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he used to be a emerging younger poet--at the heart of the "Harlem Renaissance."
Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new creation to The mammoth Sea, an American vintage: "This is American writing at its best--simpler than Hemingway; as basic and direct as that of one other Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."
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Additional info for Autobiography: The Big Sea
Westley and I were surrounded by sisters and deacons praying. It was very hot in the church, and getting late now. Finally Westley said to me in a whisper: “God damn! I’m tired o’ sitting here. ” So he got up and was saved. Then I was left all alone on the mourners’ bench. My aunt came and knelt at my knees and cried, while prayers and songs swirled all around me in the little church. The whole congregation prayed for me alone, in a mighty wail of moans and voices. And I kept waiting serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting—but he didn’t come.
He said he could play a guitar, but no one on the Malone possessed a guitar, so we never knew. I had the petty ofﬁcers’ mess to take care of and their staterooms to make up. There was nothing hard about a mess boy’s work. You got up at six in the morning, with the mid-Atlantic calm as a sun-pool, served breakfast, made up the rooms, served luncheon, had all the afternoon off, served dinner, and that was all. The rest of the time you could lie on deck in the sun, play cards with the sailors, or sleep.
You see, books had been happening to me. Now the books were cast off back there somewhere in the churn of spray and night behind the propeller. I was glad they were gone. I went up on the poop and looked over the railing toward New York. But New York was gone too. There were no longer any lights to be seen. The wind smelt good. I was sleepy, so I went down a pair of narrow steps that ended just in front of our cabin—the mess boys’ cabin. Inside the hot cabin, George lay stark naked in a lower bunk, talking and laughing and gaily waving his various appendages around.