David Chinitz’s Which Sin to Bear?: Authenticity and Compromise in Langston Hughes explores the poet’s interest in the concept of racial authenticity, as well as his growing appreciation of “compromise.” The book’s greatest contribution is the first published analysis of Hughes’s executive-session testimony before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Released in 2003, the testimony offers new insight into the rhetoric Hughes adopted while under interrogation. While Hughes’s equivocations on the communist sentiments expressed in his poetry may strike some as a surrender to McCarthy’s scare politics, Chinitz argues that the transcript reveals instead a sequence of deliberately crafted, literary-theoretical rejoinders. This reading serves Chinitz’s argument that, across his career, Hughes became increasingly committed to theorizing an “ethics of compromise.”


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pp. 181-184
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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