James Baldwin wrote of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun,
Never before in the entire history of the American theatre had so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on the stage. Hansberry's depiction of a working-class African American family living on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s dramatizes evocatively their urban backwater chronologically poised between the civil rights movement and the black activism of the years to come, as each of the characters struggles with issues of cultural assimilation and resistance. Essays in this volume approach the play as a resonant social document, as a frequently staged play and iconic film, and as an ambitious work of theatrical realism crafted by a dramatist not yet thirty. This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory
About This Volume essay, followed by another work titled
Leverage, Risk, and Fragility in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, by Edwin Wong. This is followed by a Biography of William Shakespeare written by volume editor Robert C. Evans. Next, a collection of six critical contexts essays are intended to treat the novel from a historical vantage point; in terms of its critical reception; using a specific critical lens; and by comparing and contrasting it with another important work. Following these essays, the book contains a Critical Readings section. Each essay includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author's life, beginning with a Chronology of Lorraine Hansberry's Life. This is followed by a list of Works by Lorraine Hansberry and a Bibliography. Finally, this section closes with an About the Editor section, Contributors, and a detailed Index.