The critique of white male society that Charles W. Chesnutt launched in A Marrow of Tradition continues in Evelyn's Husband, one of six manuscripts left unpublished when this highly regarded African American innovator died.
Set in Boston society, on a deserted Caribbean island, and in Brazil, Evelyn's Husband is the story of two men-one old, one young-in love with the same young woman. Late in his career Chesnutt embarked on a period of experimentation with eccentric forms, finishing this hybrid of a romance and adventure story just before publishing his last work, The Colonel's Dream.
In Evelyn's Husband, Chesnutt crafts a parody examining white male roles in the early 1900s, a time when there was rampant anxiety over the subject. In Boston, the older man is left at the altar when his bride-to-be flees and marries a young architect. Later, trapped on an island together, the jilted lover and the young husband find a productive middle ground between the dilettante and the primitive.
Along with A Business Career, this novel marks Chesnutt's achieve-ment in being among the first African American authors to defy the color barrier and write fiction with a white cast of main characters.
Matthew Wilson, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, introduces both A Business Career and Evelyn's Husband. He is associate professor of humanities and writing at Penn State University, Harrisburg. Marjan van Schaik, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, edited both novels along with Wilson and is a part-time instructor at Millersville University.