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Abstract

For Pauline Hopkins, the decision to present readers with a fictional yet faithful portrayal of urban African-American life centered in Boston, which at that time was the capital of African-American advancement, was political. In her introduction to Contending Forces (1900), she writes: “Fiction is of great value to any people as a preserver of manners and customs—religious, political and social. It is a record of growth and development from generation to generation. No one will do this for us; we must ourselves develop the men and women who will faithfully portray the inmost thoughts and feelings of the Negro with all the fire and romance which lies dormant in our history, and, as yet, unrecognized by writers of the Anglo-Saxon race.” Hopkins saw fiction as an instrumental form; preserving and recording growth and development would help to build a progressive vision of the past and future for African Americans.

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