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Walker, Alice.

Third Life of Grange Copeland, The.


An intimate presentation of the Author's First novel
Walker, Alice. The Third Life of Grange Copeland. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, Inc., 1970.
8vo.; grey paper-covered boards; red cloth spine; stamped in silver and red; tan dust-jacket, printed in red and brown, with a reproduction of a charcoal drawing; covers darkened; edgeworn, with few closed tears; corners bumped. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
First edition of Walker's first novel; with the author's photograph on the rear cover taken by her husband, Mel Levanthal. A presentation copy, inscribed: for sweet little ol' Jane, who listened much, talked little and knew where cypress trees grow. Much love,/Alice.  This novel was preceded by a book of poetry, titled Once (1968).
Walker's novel - a story about three generations of black people, and the three "lives" of Grange Copeland - was praised for being "perhaps the most authoritative picture of southern black family life in American fiction" (dust-jacket), documenting their oppression by whites and their struggle to overcome it.
Grange is described in typical Walker style, as "a tall, gaunt man, with a thick forest of iron-gray hair that whitened shade by shade over the next few years until it was completely white, completely pure, like snow. His mouth was unusually clean-looking, although he chewed tobacco, smoked, used snuff, drank anything strong, and rarely brushed his teeth" (p. 123).She also explains his relationship to his granddaughter, Ruth, who we raises when Ruth's father is sent to jail; a poignant portrait of a family:
There were times when she could tell he needed her to tell him to pull himself together. He would lie immobile on the floor, dead, and she would be drawn to him to try the magic of her hugs and kisses. She soon learned to overlook the differences between them. They got along well for grandfather and child and trivial complications in their relationship did not develop. Grange never spanked her and would probably have beaten up anyone who tried to do so" (p. 124).
This relationship with his young granddaughter helped Grange to realize that "there is no excuse to desert one's human responsibilities" (dust-jacket) in spite of the hardships one encounters in life. "Only then does he understand how he used his own oppression to mistreat others, and that his ultimate freedom has been buried within himself."

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