Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jourdon Anderson Writes "Home"

It's funny when the interweb discovers a 147-year-old piece of writing and everyone acts like it's new, including me. But you have to read this letter from a formerly enslaved man named Jourdon Anderson to his old master anyway.

As in so many other cases, The Atlantic's excellent Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about it first, a couple of years ago.

Read the whole thing and marvel at the stiletto use of language, the thinking in it. As Coates put it, "So much blackness there, and then something of that sense of Southern understatement there also, that whole playing dumb act while driving home a dead serious point. And maintaining a veneer of politeness also, even while discussing truly grave matters."

Update: There's a thread on Snopes, discussing whether Anderson's letter is authentic. The conclusion seems to be that it is, possibly with some editorial assistance from the person who wrote the letter down for him.  I was amused by a spelling error committed by one of the commenters who just can't believe that Anderson could be so verbally profound:

Comment with spelling error, rendering the words sudden breaches as sudden breeches
I'll have to get me a pair of those.


Ms Sparrow said...

I found the details of that letter almost too good to be true! Nevertheless, it's very powerfully written.

jdg said...

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the smartest writers working today. love him.