The Page 99 Test blog has a motto by Ford Madox Ford: “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”
Here’s the test applied by authors Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth to the new biography of Alain Locke:
Alain Locke was the first African American to win a Rhodes Scholarship – in 1907, after graduating from Harvard, he went to Oxford to extend his studies in philosophy and there formed his vocation to be a leader of his race. When he came back to America, after three years at Oxford and another in Berlin, he was one of the most educated people of his generation.
Page 99 of our biography catches Locke as he prepares his re-entry into America, where he will lead the Harlem Renaissance and become a cultural critic with polymathic skills and interests. At this moment in his life he was hounded by debtors and concerned that his mother not fret needlessly about his prospects. What page 99 doesn’t show is how skillful Locke already was as a writer, having produced excellent essays at Oxford on cosmopolitanism and the American temperament.
Our biography – the first full length study of this impressive intellectual – expounds on all of Locke’s many published works and details his life and achievements in ways that reanimate his claim to be one of the most important African American philosophers of the twentieth century. There are four hundred more pages like page 99 before Locke’s story is complete.
View the entry at The Page 99 Test