Eight Men Background

Eight Men Background

In 1959, Richard Wright would finally complete a long, arduous process of creating a collection of his works that he had begun way back in 1944. At that time, his vision was an anthology to be titled "Seven Men" that would consist entirely of original versions of works that had eventually been published in edited form. The process of creative evolution brought him to the point in the late 1950s at which the number of men in the title had increased by three.

It was only at the urging of Paul Reynolds, Wright's agent, that the volume was whittled down by two; both the original conception and the revised "Ten Men" title became inapplicable. The result would come to be known to readers as Eight Men, a collection comprised of five short stories, two radio dramas, and one essay. Each of the selections chosen for representation is endowed with a legacy of difficulty, in terms of finding publishers unwilling to accept the works without demanding significant edits.

The twists and turns that took that idea conceived in 1944 to its ultimate resolution as Wright’s final work, and one which is considered to be his most powerful statement from the 1950s, would come to a tragically symbolic conclusion. Though Wright agreed with the advice of Reynolds to cut two stories, this 1959 revision would be his final stamp on the presentation. On November 28, 1960 Richard Wright’s life was cut tragically short by a heart attack; he was 52. Eight Men would finally be published only after Wright’s widow took on the task of submitting the manuscript to publishers.

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