Posted on July 23, 2019 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

The latest literary discovery: an essay, never before published in English, by Langston Hughes.

Smithsonian Magazine’s Steven Hoelscher was poking through an unrelated archive when he found the piece about an escaped prisoner whom Hughes met during his road trip with Zora Neale Hurston.

Hoelscher eventually deduced that “Foreword From Life” had been written as the introduction to an investigative journalist’s novel that exposed the brutality and racism of chain gangs.

However, Hughes wrote his essay a year after the book was first published, while he was living in Moscow, so it only appeared in the Russian version of the novel.

You can read the introduction and more about its origins on the magazine’s website.

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