Harlem in review : critical reactions to Black American writers, 1917-1939 /

Harlem in Review charts critical responses to black American writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Based on broad research into American and African-American journals and newspapers, it includes more than a thousand annotated items and an introduction surveying major issues in the criticism. The Harlem Re...

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Main Author: Bassett, John Earl, 1942- (Author)
Format: Book
Language:English
Published:Selinsgrove : Susquehanna University Press ; London ; Cranbury, NJ : Associated University Presses, ©1992.
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Main Author:Bassett, John Earl, 1942-
Summary:Harlem in Review charts critical responses to black American writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Based on broad research into American and African-American journals and newspapers, it includes more than a thousand annotated items and an introduction surveying major issues in the criticism. The Harlem Renaissance inspired widespread interest in black culture as well as the first public debates among black writers about their own writing. With the publication of Harlem Shadows, Cane, and the early novels of Jessie Fauset and Walter White, American readers heard about contributions of "The New Negro" to literature. Anthologies of poetry and folklore made more texts in black culture available than ever before. Two issues divided black writers. One, articulated in a debate between Hughes and the more conservative George Schuyler, was over the value of using specifically black cultural forms and materials. The other issue, portrayal of black characters in fiction, can best be studied in reviews of McKay's and Fauset's novels. To some critics Home to Harlem was a stunning depiction of lower-class life. Others said that to focus on bums, prostitutes, and seedier aspects of life was pandering to prurient tastes of white readers. Fauset's fiction of "middle-class Negroes" was praised for portraying a neglected group but condemned as a set of timid stories acceptable to white Americans. White reviewers tended to address different issues--form, style, coherence of characterizations--at times condescendingly but often with favor, and they were divided over the success of McKay's episodic technique and Fauset's sentimentality. The best black critics, such as Rudolph Fisher and Wallace Thurman, addressed both kinds of issues effectively. In the 1930s poetry received less attention, and some of the most exciting intellectual activity among blacks was in the social sciences. A number of novelists gave a new momentum to fiction. As urban writers such as McKay, Thurman, Fauset, Fisher, and Nella Larsen completed their work in fiction or died, new writers of the Depression--Zora Neale Hurston, George Wylie Henderson, Waters Edward Turpin, Ama Bontemps--wrote novels of a rural world. While receiving fewer reviews than Faulkner, Wolfe, and Hemingway, they did get favorable responses from all parts of the country. At the same time debates over social realism and over political and aesthetic missions of writers divided black intellectuals. Outlets such as New Masses and the Daily Worker published manifestoes by engaged young writers like Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright; and Wright himself gave a new direction to black literature in the 1940s. In that decade a new generation of poets and novelists emerged, and black literature began to get its first attention in academic journals.

A bibliography of over a thousand reviews of books written by black Americans during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, culled from both African-American and mainstream journals and newspapers. The citations are by book, within chronological sections; most are annotated. The introduction outlines some of the issues that divided black writers. Indexed only by author and critic. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

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General Notes:Includes indexes.
Physical Description:232 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN:0945636288 (alk. paper)
9780945636281