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The Conquest
Copyright © 1994
by Oscar Micheaux
Washington Square P
How to Buy

Before Oscar Micheaux became celebrated as one of the earliest black filmmakers, he wrote a series of remarkable novels, the first one published in 1913 as The Conquest. Dedicated to Booker T Washington, the black educator whose advocacy of assimilation was opposed by many of his race who were agitating for civil rights, The Conquest "is a true story of a negro who was discontented and [of] the circumstances that were the outcome of that discontent." The novel portrays the aspirations and struggles of a black homesteader named Oscar Devereaux. Born on a small farm near Cairo, Illinois, one of thirteen children, Devereaux leaves home to work in the Chicago stockyards and finally graduates to the job of porter in a Pullman railway car. He is personable, industrious, and frugal with a purpose. After saving $2,500, Devereaux goes to South Dakota and buys land. His object is not speculation for a quick profit but the cultivation of property he can call his own. He plows and sows and sweats, and by the age of twenty-five has reaped an estate worth $20,000. Success is sweet, self-respect sweeter. But if the calamities he is exposed to as a homesteader are severe, so are those brought on by marriage to the passive daughter of a dominating preacher. Rarely reprinted and never before in paperback, The Conquest is introduced by Learthen Dorsey, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln. Also available in a Bison Book edition is Oscar Micheaux’s 1917 novel The Homesteader. — from the jacket

The Homesteader
Copyright © 1994
by Oscar Micheaux
U of Nebraksa P
How to Buy

Oscar Micheaux is legendary as one of the first black filmmakers. Never afraid of taking risks, he founded his own company, writing, producing, and directing thirty-some silents and talkies from 1919 to 1948. Earlier, he had published a series of remarkable novels — in 1917 The Homesteader, which would be filmed twice. Autobiographical, The Homesteader expands on and continues the life of a black pioneer first described in The Conquest (also a Bison Book). In this incarnation, Jean Baptiste is his name. He has just purchased land in South Dakota when he meets his "dream girl," but to his mind marriage is impossible because she is white. Willful but warm-hearted, refusing to act as if he has no power to shape events, Baptiste cultivates his land and plans his future. In the face of drought, pestilence, and foreclosure, he turns to writing. His first marriage to the daughter of a Chicago minister collapses in acrimony and high drama. The circumstances that lead to its failure are a telling social commentary. Always learning, Baptiste demands respect and embodies the strengths of the pioneer, the vision of the empire builder. His story will impress and inspire in this cynical age without heroic models. The Homesteader appears for the first time in paperback with an introduction by Learthen Dorsey, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln. — from the jacket

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