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The Quest of the Silver Fleece

W. E. B. Du Bois

Book Overview: 

The Quest of the Silver Fleece is a story of romance, race economics and politics set around the 1900s. Here, a traditionally educated boy and an unschooled “swamp girl” each begin a journey toward love, ambition and redemption in the “Old South.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .stumps groaned and crept up into the air, the brambles blazed and smoked; little frightened animals fled for shelter; and a wide black patch of rich loam broadened and broadened till it kissed, on every side but the sheltered east, the black waters of the lagoon. Late Sunday night the mule again swam the slimy lagoon, and disappeared toward the Cresswell fields. Then Bles sat down beside Zora, facing the fields, and gravely took her hand. She looked at him in quick, breathless fear.

"Zora," he said, "sometimes you tell lies, don't you?"

"Yes," she said slowly; "sometimes."

"And, Zora, sometimes you steal—you stole the pin from Miss Taylor, and we stole Mr. Cresswell's mule for two days."

"Yes," she said faintly, with a perplexed wrinkle in her brows, "I stole it."

"Well, Zora, I don'. . . Read More

Community Reviews

W.E.B. DuBois was a pioneer sociologist, political scientist, social activist and co-founder of the N.A.A.C.P. Near the end of his career he attempted to broaden the audience of his ideas and philosophy by writing fiction. One of his efforts, first published in 1911, was The Quest of the Silver F...more

I first learned of this book via Slavery By Another Name. DuBois had studied the area and written a report, and then could not publish it as sociology, so turned it into a novel. It starts off somewhat slowly, and with an overly flowerly prose, which delayed my getting into the book. It became mo...more

I am a great lover of black writers and their works. I had never read anything by Du Bois and for some reason chose this one as the starting point. It was an excellent choice since it was his first. It is an honest, unflinching look at race relations, the cotton crop (silver fleece) and the diffe...more

(published 1911)
The Quest of the Silver Fleece is an amazing story, profoundly exploring and exposing America’s views on race. From the back of the book: “Originally published in 1911, The Quest of the Silver Fleece was the first novel to come from world-famous sociologist and civil rights leader...more

A great book and a brilliant author.

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This is a beautiful and heart wrenching coming of age story of two African-Americans in the south 50 years after the end of slavery. While this story takes place in a emancipated American South it takes care to show the overt racism and connects it to the subtle ways it effects people both Black...more

WEB DuBois is woke.

"She had all the elements of power save the motive for doing anything in particular" (p. 146).

"She remembered the rector in Mrs. Vanderpool's library, and his question that revealed unfathomable depths of ignorance: 'Really, now, how do you account for the distressing increase...more

Everyone should read this book. It's a wonderful coming of age story set in the early 1900s. Beautifully written.

I took an entire course on DuBois when I was in college and became a huge fan. Still, I wasn't sure he'd hold up as a novelist (I'd read essays, short stories, sociological materials), and I had put off reading this book for years. As it turns out, the book was actually a pretty good read, with s...more

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