NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 181

BRN-FALL-2013.indb 179 At the end of December 1958, Essie and Paul went to Moscow where they had been invited to celebrate the New Year in the Kremlin along with W. E. B. Du Bois and his wife Shirley Graham. They were welcomed by Khrushchev as distinguished guests, in the same way they had been during the Stalin era; for them apparently nothing had changed, they were still icons. In the Soviet capital, during a big concert, Robeson again sang the “Chassidic Chant of Levi Isaac” introducing it as usual with reference to secular Jewish suffering. In a country in which violent state anti-Semitism had been practiced and in which Yiddish culture was still stifled, his words took on a powerful significance. This is probably why these words were once again erased from the concert recordings. 51 As for Paul Robeson, despite the triumphant welcome he had enjoyed, he seemed to be a broken man. Lily Golden, 52 who remembers having noticed the singer’s increasing melancholy, wonders whether this was not linked to his realization of the disastrous nature of Stalinism in general and more particularly the extent of anti-Semitic persecution. Robeson intimated as much one day in private to Essie. 53 He made no public declaration to this effect but the rumor of his disillusion spread and, two years later, on 27 March 1960, Paul Robeson slit his wrists with a razor in his Moscow hotel room. The exact circumstances of his attempted suicide have remained unclear. The previous evening there had been a noisy party in his room late into the night. Nobody knows who his visitors were but some, it was said later, asked him to help imprisoned friends or relatives. His interpreter Irina found him in the bath the following morning. The Soviet doctors diagnosed “depressive paranoic psychosis generated by an involutional form of arteriosclerosis.” 54 His son Paul Jr. suspected the cia and the wildest rumors circulated. This would appear to have been the first manifestation of the repeated depressive episodes which affected the singer from then on in London and in the United States. Opinions diverge as regards the cause of his depression. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE For the future they also looked eastwards, to another promised land, the Soviet Union, viewed as the country which was leading the anticolonial struggle and as a major symbol of an emancipating “East” whose borders stretched as far as humanity. From this wide East would come the emancipation of the South, more particularly of Africa, and also the cultural regeneration of a West corrupted by self-interest, complicit in oppression and dominated by a positivism which had hampered its emotional and creative potential. 48 Well before the development of subal \???YY\?[??????X[?[?Y\???\??\??[X??]Y?[?\????\?[?H?]X?[[???Y[\]?H?[?X[???\??Y??[\?\?Z?HX[?H?\?Y??X?[??[Y\?X?[??]H[YKH?X?[\?^?Y??[Y?[?\??H?H??X?[??B???\?X[??X?[YH?H??[][?\??YX[ ?[?\?[[ X[?H?]????X?Y?H?[YHYX[?[?YX[^?Y?X?[\??Y\??X[?\?K?Z\??\??\?H?]?^YY ???]?\?[??\?[??H?[YHYX\?[??NMN ]][??\???&\?\?????\??]\??Y?[K?H?\?\?X?B???]\???H\???\?K??YX\??X\?Y\?H ?\?H???\??Y?]?X[Y?[[??&\??[Y\?H?[???^??Z?\?[??][?H?\???Y???P\?X[??]\???&H???\?[??K?]B??]??HX]?H[?\??[? ?\?HB????\?[??H?\?[ Y??X?[?X?\?][??\X\?Y??H[?\??^K?[[??B?X[?H[Y?][???[?KH?\?????\?ZY??]H?HY??X?[???[?[? ?Y?[?H\??H??[??[? ?B??Z[?X[??\?\?[?]]?K???H??[??B?Y[???\??Z[?Y]?[?\[?[??K??X?Z]?YH?[?[???][???]B?[?\?X\?H?XX?Y]?Y??[???[?][??\??\X\?Y ? HH?\?[??H\?[??Z\?Y?Y\??B?[?\??][?[?\?]?[?Y??X?[?[??\?X[??[?[XK?X??Y?[??\??Y?\??\??[??X??\?[?]Y?\?]Y??HH???\?]H??[?Y][H\?[??X?H?[???H\???[?^??Z??[??\? ?\??X[?ZY\?[???Z[B??[?]YY[??H[?XYH???\??\??]\?K? L??M?B??HY??X?[?[Y\?X?[?\??[?B??]?\??X??H??^H?X[?\?^H?[??Z\?Y\??Y?H[?????H?]B??X???\???[Y]?Y?[YH???HB?\?[?H[????]YY[[?K???^[? ??[??HH?X?X?[[YB?\?H?\?Y?Y?\?[??H[???\??H??Y??[?]H?]?Y[??]??[??X???B???Y?H?X?\??[?[?]X[???X?[???]?Y[?HX??]??[?H?\???Y??X?[???\?X[??\?]?X?[??Y][?[?]?\??[\?H?\\????Y[??[Y?[?[?\??K??X???[?????][??\?\?8?'?X??[??[Z]\?K]X\?[?]???\?X[???\?Y]K?Y]????\?X[???Y??X?[??\??[?\???H??\?H?\?]X[B?[?[?X[H???\????\?[?]??]?\?\??\??'H ?[?\??[??K??\???&\??X\????H ?]?JH?\????\? ??H[?]?X??\?[JH[???B?^]?HX\?Y\?[Y\????\??Y ??]?\??\?H^]X?^?YX\?Y\??[Y\?]H[Y\?X?[??X???]????Y?????X?[\?[?\???K?L??L? L??SB??